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The ten studies which constitute this volume are 
devoted to individuals who are held out as being 
reasonably characteristic of that modern movement 
of the last and present century which started with 
the French Revolution. At any rate, they were all 
modern once. For the spirit of modernity enjoys, 
like the priest-god of the ancient grove, only a 
temporary reign, and is speedily killed by its inevit- 
able successor. 

It is somewhat difficult to find any common 
denominator for the subjects of these studies. The 
essays must be left largely to speak for themselves. 
If, however, an attempt were to be made to pro- 
nounce of what the spirit of modernity really con- 
sists, one might suggest that it is a spirit of energy, 
of fearlessness in analysis, whose sole raison d'etre 
and whose sole ideal is actual life itself. 

The studies on Miss Marie Corelli and Herr 
Wedekind are here published for the first time. 
Those on Disraeli, Heine, Stendhal, Schnitzler, 
Strindberg, the Futurists, and Verhaeren have ap- 
peared is articles in the Fortnightly Review; while 
the essay on Nietzsche's M Genealogy of Morals " 
was first published in the English Review. I have 
consequently pleasure in expressing my thanks and 

. Til 


acknowledgments to Mr. W. L. Courtney and Mr. 
Austin Harrison for their courtesy in allowing these 
articles to be reproduced in their present form. I 
have also to thank the editor of the New Statesman 
for permission to republish my translation from 
Marinetti's, "The Pope's Monoplane." 

I have made additions to the essays on Schnitzler 
and the Futurists with a view to incorporating 
some reference to the more recent works of Dr. 
Schnitzler and M. Marinetti. 

Temple, October 191 3. 



Stendhal : The Compleat Intellectual . . i 

Heinrich Heine 26 

The Psychology of Disraeli 50 

Nietzsche's " Genealogy of Morals " . . .70 

August Strindberg 91 

The Weltanschauung of Miss Marie Corelli . 114 

Frank Wedekind 134 

Arthur Schnitzler 161 

&mile verhaeren 1 96 

The Future of Futurism 212 

Index 239 




" I ONLY write for a hundred readers, and of those 
unhappy, amiable, charming creatures without either 
hypocrisy or morality whom I should like to please, 
I only know one or two." 

On the assumption that with the natural growth 
of the population, "the happy few" for whom 
Stendhal wrote have sufficiently multiplied in this 
country to render it likely that a reasonable number 
of readers will possess these requisite qualifications, 
it becomes relevant to give both some analysis and 
some appreciation of a man who is perhaps the most 
perfect type of the " intellectual " that Europe has yet 

For Stendhal was an intellectual in the fullest sense 
of the term. Neither a recluse scholar nor a rabid 
doctrinaire, but a man of the world and of action, of 
brain, heart, and sensibility, he sought and to a large 
extent found in the intellect an energetic servant, by 
whose faithful escort he could sally forth on that 
" hunt of happiness," which led him in his variegated 
career from the field of battle to the bowers of love, 
and from the high plateaux of reverie to the meti- 
culous terre a terre observations of psychological 



Henri Beyle was born in 1783, in Grenoble in 
Dauphin6, a town whose hidebound provincialism 
he hated consistently from his childhood to his 

" His childhood," to quote from his own auto- 
biography, " was a continual period of unhappiness 
and of hate and of the sweets of a vengeance which 
was always helpless." Loving his mother, according 
to his somewhat pathetic boast, with a man's passion, 
he lost her at the age of seven. On being told that 
God had taken her away, he conceived with immediate 
logic an implacable hatred against that Deity who 
had deprived him of the being whom he loved most 
in the world, a hatred which, turning into momentary 
gratitude on the occasion of the death of his bete 
noire, his Aunt Seraphie, was finally merged in the 
chilly negation of the honest atheist. Inasmuch as 
to the quality of logic Stendhal added those of re- 
belliousness and imagination, it is not surprising that 
even in childhood his relations should have been 
inharmonious with his father, a royalist lawyer 
situated on the borderland between the bourgeoisie 
and the gentry. The royalism of his father im- 
mediately sufficed to turn Henri into the reddest of 
republicans. The execution of Louis XVI filled his 
childish heart with holy glee, and the guillotining of 
two royalist priests at Grenoble affected him with an 
elation which, if solitary, was for that very reason all 
the more genuine. So hot indeed was his republican 
ardour that he even forged an official order requiring 
his enlistment in a body of cadets. But although he 
was unappreciative of his father, whom he would refer 
to in his diaries and letters by the almost equally offen- 
sive synonyms of "bastard" and "Jesuit," he none the 
less manifested the deepest affection for his maternal 
grandfather, M. Gagnon, a Voltairean doctor of lively 


intellect and genial disposition, and for the cook and 
the butler of the paternal house. 

The child soon began to stimulate by books his 
naturally precocious imagination, stealing in his thirst 
for knowledge those volumes which the solicitude or 
conventionalism of his father deemed it inexpedient 
for him to read. From La Nouvelle Heloise in 
particular he would appear to have derived imagin- 
ative transports far transcending the joys of a prosaic 
reality. But he had conceived an early aversion to 
poetry by reason of an awful poem by some Jesuit 
about a fly that got drowned in a cup of milk. The 
reading of Moliere, however, dispelled the unpleasant 
association, and his early ambition became crystallised 
into going to Paris and writing a comedy. For apart 
from the magnetic attraction of the metropolis itself, 
Grenoble exacerbated his nerves. Unappreciated at 
home, he found himself, with the exception of one or 
two genuine friendships, solitary and unpopular at 
school among those masters and schoolfellows whom 
he already despised. It is interesting to remember, 
parenthetically, that even when a schoolboy he fought 
a duel, and boldly faced the fire of what subsequently 
turned out to have been an unloaded pistol by 
concentrating his gaze on a distant rock. His intel- 
lectual ability carried all before him, and he found 
in mathematics a loophole of escape from his pro- 
vincial prison. Coming out top in the examinations 
he obtained a bourse at the Ecole Polytechnique at 
the age of sixteen, and was sent to Paris with 
instructions to place himself under the protection 
of M. Daru, a relative of the family and the holder 
of a ministerial appointment. By this time his erotic 
ambitions were beginning to formulate themselves 
with comparative definiteness. He had already ex- 
perienced a passion for a Mdlle. Kably, a local actress, 


which while never attaining a more advanced stage 
than that of inquiring the way to her lodgings, was 
none the less violent. Anyway, when the boy went 
to Paris he had finally decided to live up to the best 
of his ability to the Don Juan ideal. 

His first sojourn at Paris, however, surprised both 
himself and his parents. With considerable obstinacy 
he refused to attend the Polytechnique and set himself 
to study privately in his own rooms. But the first 
essay at the single life proved a fiasco. No dashing 
romances coloured his solitary existence, while he 
was either too nervous or too refined to sully his 
soul with mere mercenary pleasure. He became 
dreamy and ill, and was eventually taken charge of 
by the Darus. In the pompous officialdom of this 
family his health recovered, but his spirit rebelled. 
He complains bitterly that he not only had to sleep 
in the house but also to dine with the family. He 
none the less knit a firm friendship with his cousin 
Martial Daru, a brainless and amiable youth who 
subsequently at Milan and at Brunswick taught 
him the elementary rules of amoristic etiquette. 

The Marengo campaign gave him an opportunity 
of practising that Napoleonic worship which was his 
one and only religion. The influence of the Darus 
procured him a commission, and the passage of the 
St. Bernard was one of the landmarks of his life. 
He drank to the full the intoxication of victory which 
attended the entry into Milan of the youthful army, 
and conceived for the Countess Angela Pietragrua, 
** a sublime wanton a la Lucrezia Borgia," a passion 
which ten years subsequently was duly rewarded. 
The Milan period was, according to that epitaph 
which he penned himself, "the finest in his life." "He 
adored music and literary renown, set great store by 
the art of giving a good blow with the sabre and 


was wounded in the foot by a thrust received in a 
duel. He was aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General 
Michaud. He distinguished himself. He was the 
happiest and probably the maddest of men when on 
the conclusion of the peace the minister of war 
ordered the subaltern aides-de-camp to return to their 

Returning to Grenoble on furlough, he fell in love 
with Mdlle. Victorine Bigillon, the sister of one of his 
best friends, whom he suddenly followed to Paris, 
although his leave would appear to have been limited 
to Grenoble. Reprimanded by the authorities he 
sent in his resignation, and " madder than ever 
started to study with the view of becoming a great 
man." His experiences, subjective and objective, 
during this period are described in his journal with 
a detail, a lucidity, an honesty which are worthy of 
some mention. For we see now officially scheduled 
and officially annotated all those heterogeneous 
qualities which made up the sum of this man's psy- 
chology; his rigid intellectualism, his sentimentality, 
his ambition, his artistic enthusiasm, his constant flow 
of analytical energy (directed now against the external 
world, now against himself, yet scarcely for a single 
moment losing itself in a complete abandon), his 
love of witty conversation, whether his own or that of 
others, the sweep of his intellectual ideals, his intoler- 
ance of bores and fools, that apprehensive self-con- 
sciousness which so often made him the dupe of the 
fear of being duped, his exuberant joie de vivre, and 
" that love of glory and sensibility which are only 
for the intimes friends." 

And extraordinarily stimulating are the reflections, 
charmingly interspersed with English phrases, in this 
breviary of intellectual egoism, where the / and the 
Me enter into a Holy Alliance in their heroic con- 


spiracy against the rest of the world. It was mainly 
this self-consciousness which induced Beyle deliber- 
ately to set himself to become a psychologist. 
" Nearly all the misfortunes of life," writes our 
twenty-year-old philosopher, "come from the false 
notions we have concerning that which happens to 
us. Must know men thoroughly." And how he 
scolds himself when he fails to live up to his ideal, 
and when " his accursed mania for being brilliant 
results in his being more occupied in making a deep 
impression than in guessing others." And so it is 
that he reflects, "what a fool I am not to have the 
knack of drawing out each man to tell his story, 
which might prove so useful to me," and that the man, 
who was subsequently to style himself by profession 
"an observer of the human heart" developed that 
" universal desire to know all that passes within a man." 
Though, however, his love of psychology was thus, as 
we have seen, to some extent a case of reaction from 
his own nervousness and of externalised introspection, 
it is impossible to deny the purity of his intellectual 
enthusiasm. At an age when even the chastest of 
prose writers may well be pardoned for wallowing in 
the debauchery of purple patches, he inscribes in his 
journal that the sole quality in style is lucidity. It 
was this deeply rooted abhorrence of floridity and 
ostentation that on a subsequent occasion nearly in- 
duced him to fight a duel with a man who had praised 
unduly the well known "la cime indeterminable des 
arbres " of Chateaubriand, that bete noire of Stendhal's 
of whom he prophesies in English, "This man shall 
not outlive his century." In the sphere of phil- 
osophy, characteristically enough his logical and 
mathematical turn of mind embraced with natural 
love and facility the materialism of the French 


" Helvetius opened wide to him the doors of the 
world," and he became on terms of affectionate 
friendship with the aged philosopher Destutt Tracy. 
So radical indeed was Stendhal's philosophic bias, 
that on one occasion, feeling presumably more studious 
than amorous, he neglects an assignation with the 
lady whom he was pursuing, to plunge with even 
greater gusto into a hundred pages of Adam Smith. 
Though, too, he habitually worked twelve hours a 
day, he would appear to have cut a frequent figure 
in both those formal and Bohemian sets of the capital 
which offered such refreshing contrasts and facilities 
to artistic young men. 

His love for Victorine proved unreciprocated. 
There followed innocuous passages with a respect- 
able demi-vierge, referred to in the journal as Adele 
of the Gate. But Stendhal found his chief distrac- 
tion in that society of authors, men of the world, 
and actresses whom he met at the house of Dugazon, 
a celebrated teacher of theatrical elocution. In this 
variegated set, where the mutual relations and com- 
plications of the various members provided a chronic 
source of interest and speculation, Stendhal met a 
young mother, named M61anie Guilbert (the Louason 
of the journal), " a charming actress who had the 
most refined sentiments and to whom I never gave 
a sou." To this lady Stendhal set himself to lay a 
siege, which was eventually successful after a quite 
unnecessary duration. 

The demeanour of Stendhal in society is highly 
instructive. A man of such abnormal sensitiveness 
that " the least thing moved him and made the tears 
come to his eyes," he encased himself in an " irony 
which was imperceptible to the vulgar," and, posing 
with marked success as both a cynic and a rou, 
notes with interest " the terrifying effect which his 


particular kind of wit produced on society." But if 
his deliberate brilliancies won him respect rather than 
popularity, they certainly consolidated his own self- 
estimation. " Maximum of wit in my life Je me 
suis toujours vu aller mais sans gene pour cela," runs 
one of these honest confidences which he made to 
himself, "without lying, without deceiving himself, with 
pleasure, like a letter to a friend." He needed, how- 
ever, the audience of a salon to put him on his mettle, 
and would appear, at any rate during this period, to 
have been somewhat ineffective in tete-a-tete. His 
journal records a lamentable succession of muddled 
opportunities, of occasions when he was too natural 
to observe his companion with sufficient acumen, and 
of occasions when he was not natural enough. It 
was the latter characteristic, however, which predomi- 
nated, and even though the emotion of his love was 
genuine, its expression was a bookish and theatrical 
formulation of an already rehearsed ideal, directed 
quite as much to the critical approbation of his own 
consciousness as to the actual object of his wooing. 
Yet the full gusto of a rich joie de vivre palpitates 
in this incessant cerebration. Time after time do we 
come upon the entry that such and such a day was 
the happiest in his life. And if at times " his only 
distraction was to observe his own state, it was none 
the less a great one." His very sensibility becomes 
a source of gratification, and he will congratulate 
himself that he has perhaps lived more in a day than 
many of his more stolid friends will live in the whole 
of their life. The financial problem pressed irksomely 
upon him at this period, and, combining business 
and sentiment, he obtained a position in a house at 
Marseilles, in which town Louason had obtained an 
engagement. Whether however because of parental 
pressure or because the distractions of business had 


cured him of his passion, he soon left Marseilles for 
Grenoble, and subsequently returned to Paris. 

The campaigns of 1806 to 1809 offered new scope 
to the ambition of Beyle, who always rose successfully 
to practical emergencies and was, as he tells us 
himself, " most simple and most natural in the greatest 
dangers." He was present at the battle of Jena, came 
several times into personal contact with Napoleon, 
and discharged with singular efficiency the fiscal 
administration of the state of Brunswick. 

The next landmark in his life, however, is his 
passion for the wife of his relative, the punctilious 
but aged M. Daru, a passion the various nuances of 
which are faithfully recorded in those sections of his 
journal headed "The Life and Sentiments of Silenci- 
ous Harry," " Memoirs of my life during my amour 

for the Grafin P y," the narrative of the intrigue 

between Julien and Mathilde in Le Rouge et le Noir, 
and the posthumous fragment entitled " Le Consulta- 
tion de Banti," a piece of methodical deliberation on 
the pressing question, a Dois-je ou ne dois-je pas avoir la 
duchesse?" which, it is believed, is quite unparalleled in 
the whole history of eroticism. For with his peculiar 
faculty of driving his intellect and his heart in double 
harness, he analyses the pros and cons of the erotic 
and ethical situation, the qualifications and defects 
of the lady with all the documentary coldness of 
a Government report. His diary during this period 
is so delightfully honest as to justify quotations : 
"Tuesday, 18th April 18 10, 1st day of Longchamps. 

On the whole I think that I love the Countess P y 

a little." " 1 oth August, I have proved by an evi- 
dence the truth of my principles about rousing love 
in the heart of a woman." The 4th August. I was 
reading the excellent essay of Hume upon the feudal 
government from two till half-past four o'clock ; 


during this time she wanted my presence ; au retour 
she cannot say a word without speaking of me or to 
me. J'eus le tort de ne pas hasarder quelque entre- 
prise. Mais je le repete j'ai trop de sensibility pour 
avoir jamais du talent dans l'art de Lovelace ! " 

Stendhal would appear to have treated this par- 
ticular liaison rather as a polite routine of social 
amenities than as a serious passion. How refreshing 
is his account of the tedium of the relationship : " At 
Paris I have no time for working to Letellier [a 
mediocre comedy in verse which was never finished], 
I have here nothing but my passion for C. Palfy ; 
'tis a month that I reproach to myself the money 
that I spent without pleasure of mind into those 

Towards the autumn of 1811 Stendhal journeyed 
to Milan, his favourite town in Europe whose citizen- 
ship he arrogated in his self-written epitaph. Renew- 
ing his acquaintance with the Countess Pietragrua, 
for whom he had languished in dumb nervousness 
on his first visit to Milan ten years past, he took 
an especial joy in compensating for his previous 
clumsiness by displaying the easy brilliancy of the 
man of the world. And then on the eve of his de- 
parture from Milan he writes in English " I was, I 
believe, in love." "Apres un combat moral fort serieux 
ou j'ai joue le malheur et j usque le desespoir, elle 
est a moi onze heures et demi. Je pars de Milan a 
une heure et demie le 22 septembre 181 1." 

In 18 1 2 Beyle served in the Moscow campaign, 
having obtained a position in the commissariat de- 
partment. It is characteristic that he should have 
kept his nerve during the whole of that panic-stricken 
retreat, shaving every day, and repelling with con- 
siderable sangfroid and bravery an attack by the 
enemy on a hospital of wounded. Disgusted by the 


Restoration, he settled in Milan in 1814, resumed his 
relationship with Mine. Angelina Pietragrua, who 
would appear to have systematically deceived him, 
and lived generally the life of the dilettante and the 
man of letters. 

In 18 1 4 he published his first work, The Lives 
of Hadyn and Mozart par Louis Alexander Bombet. 
This pseudonym is partly due to Beyle's habitual mania 
for anonymity and partly to the consciousness that 
the substantial portion of the work had been coolly 
plagiarised from Carpani. Nor do any morbid pangs 
of conscience appear to have ruffled the serenity of 
the author, who found a precedent for his action in 
the plagiarisms of Moliere and a subsequent justifi- 
cation in the money that he obtained. Emboldened 
indeed by his success he published in London, in 
1 817, a series of travel sketches, Rome, Naples, 
and Florence, which owed in some places an un- 
acknowledged debt to the Italian Travels of Goethe. 
Yet even so, viewed as a whole the book possesses 
a richness of material, a raciness of observation, a 
joy of journeying, a spontaneity of verve which give 
it a high rank among travel literature and make it 
eminently readable even at the present day. Less 
a guide-book than a personal narrative, it describes 
the actual life of the period as actually lived by a 
man who plumed himself at thirty on still retaining 
all the folly of his youth. The author was an en- 
thusiast for the theatre, a devotee of the ballet, and 
a keen wagerer of those exquisite ices which formed 
one of the chief allurements of the Scala Theatre. 
An enthusiastic anti-clerical and an eager reader of 
forbidden political plays at midnight coteries, he 
yet feels on visiting the Church of the Jesuits " a 
little of that respect which even the most criminal 
power inspires when it has done great things." And 


how simply natural is the following confession of a 
traveller's faith : " I experience a sensation of happi- 
ness on my journeys which I have found nowhere 
else, even in the most happy days of my ambition." 
In the same year, 1817, Stendhal published his History 
of Painting in Italy. This book is remarkable, not 
so much by its purely aesthetic criticism as by the 
application to the sphere of artistic criticism of those 
theories of heredity, climate, and environment which 
were afterwards to be so brilliantly exploited at the 
hands of Taine. Some mention should also be made 
of that simplicity of lyric fervour which distinguishes 
the extremely fine dedication to Napoleon. 

In 182 1 much to his disgust, Stendhal, accused, 
and apparently quite unjustly, of being a French spy, 
was forced to leave Milan. This exile was all the 
more irksome as Stendhal's amoristic history had now 
reached its great climax. If Louason had constituted 
the initiation of his youth, Mme. Daru the acme of 
his social achievement, and the Countess Pietragrua 
the incarnate realisation of his adventurous search for 
ideal beauty, it was in Methilde, Countess Dembowska, 
that his mature heart found a passion which though 
always ungratified remained none the less grand. It 
is instructive to observe how honest was the love, 
how deep the devotion of this official rake for u une 
femme que j'adorais, qui m'aimait et qui ne s'est 
jamais donnee a moi." Particularly significant is it 
that this man, whose cynicism had gained for him the 
sobriquet of Don Juan, should have condemned him- 
self to a three years' fidelity that thereby he might 
become more worthy of that " ame angelique cache 
dans un si beau corps qui quittait la vie en 1825." 
But it is even more interesting to notice how there 
mingles with this perfectly genuine attachment the 
most morbid self-consciousness and fear of ridicule : 


" Le pire des malheurs, m'ecriais-je, serait que ces hommes si 
sees, mes amis au milieu desquels je vais vivre, devinassent ma 
passion pour une femme que je n'ai pas eue. Cette peur mille fois 
re"pdtee a ete dans le fait la principe dirigeante de ma vie pendant 
dix ans. C'est par Ik que je suis venu a avoir de l'esprit, chose 
qui dtait la butte de mes mepris a Milan en 1818 quand j'aimais 

In 1822 Stendhal published in Paris that book 
De r Amour which he had composed at odd moments 
during his sojourn at Milan. Thought by the author 
to be his most important work, and deemed worthy 
by the public of a total purchase of seventeen copies, 
the work possesses even at the present day consider- 
able claims upon the attention. For it possesses the 
unique characteristic of being a treatise on the sexual 
emotion written by an author who was at the same time 
an acute psychologist and a brilliant man of the world, 
who could test abstract theories by concrete practice, 
and could co-ordinate what he had felt in himself 
and observed in others into broad general principles. 
While we do not propose to enter into a detailed 
analysis of this work, which occupies more than four 
hundred pages of close print, we may perhaps mention 
the author's fourfold division of love into u amour- 
passion, amour-gout, amour physique, amour de 

We would also refer to just a few of the innumer- 
able maxims with which the book is studded, as typical 
of that naively subtle simplicity which is so charac- 
teristic of our author 

" L'amour c'est avoir du plaisir a voir, toucher, 
sentir par tous les sens et d'aussi pres que possible 
un objet aimable et qui nous aime " " l'amant erre 
sans cesse entre ces id6es : 1. Elle a toutes les per- 
fections. 2. Elle m'aime. 3. Comment faire pour 
obtenir d'elle la plus grande preuve d'amour possible ?" 
" Tout l'art d'aimer se reduit, 9a me semble, a dire 


exactement a quels degres d'ivresse le moment com- 
porte, c'est-a-dire en d'autres termes a 6couter son 

And how curious is the following phrase where the 
point of view of this cynical rou seems for once 
quite in accord with that of the more ladylike of our 
lady novelists : " Le plus grand bonheur qui puisse 
donner l'amour c'est le premier serrement de main 
d'une femme qu'on aime." 

But the philosophical breadth of the author is 
perhaps best manifested by that spirit of comparative 
erotology, which induces him to analyse the various 
nuances of love all over the world from Boston to 
Constantinople, while he traces the connection be- 
tween each particular variation and the climate of the 
country and the character of the people. 

With the habitual cleverness of his tongue ex- 
acerbated by the misfortune of his love affair, Stendhal 
became a distinguished but unpopular figure with 
the Parisians. Most in his element rt in a salon of 
eight or ten persons where all the women have had 
lovers, where the conversation is gay and flavoured 
with anecdote, and when light punch is served at half- 
past twelve," he was merciless to the philistine and 
the bore, would rally with tactless truth a highly 
respectable lady on her liaison with the Archbishop 
of Paris, and would snub unwelcome declarations 
with artistic repartee. 

Plunging vigorously into the controversy between 
the Classicism and the Romanticists, Stendhal pub- 
lished in 1825 his celebrated pamphlet Racine and 
Shakespeare, which denounced the Alexandrine as a 
cache-sottise and vindicated the live modernity of a 
present age against the dead orthodoxy of a past 
generation. This little work, rushed off in a few 
hours, is one of Stendhal's happiest efforts. The style 


is bright with a lucid enthusiasm and sharp with a 
malicious logic. How crisp for instance is the truth 
of the following : 

" Le Vielliard ' Continuons.' 

Le jeune Homme ' Examinons.' 

Voila tout le dixneuvieme siecle." 

Shakespeare and Racine was followed by the Life of 
Rossini, whom Stendhal had known personally at 
Milan, and by Armanoe (1827), the first of that series 
of novels on which the literary fame of Stendhal 
substantially rests. This work possesses all the es- 
sential Stendhalian qualities ; the vein of Byronism, 
the contempt for the bourgeois, the lucid style, and 
above all the detailed description of what takes place 
in the interior of the mind. The plot consists of the 
sentimental complications resultant on the conscious- 
ness of the hero, who is one of those souls made to 
feel with energy, of his natural disqualification for 
efficient marriage. Yet with a subtlety which is 
Jamesian in everything but the clearness of the style, 
the actual difficulty is never explicitly mentioned, 
though every nuance of sensitiveness is delicately 
delineated. And with what delicate simplicity does 
Stendhal narrate the suicide of Octave, who has 
simply married his adored cousin in order to leave 
her the prestige of a rich and honourable widowhood. 
Shortly after the marriage Octave has left his wife and 
set sail for Greece. 

" Never had Octave been so under the spell of the 
most tender love as in this supreme moment. He 
granted to himself the luxury of telling everything to 
Armance except the nature of his death. A cabin boy 
from the top of the mast cried out ' land.' It was the 
soil of Greece and the mountains of the Morea which 
were to be perceived on the horizon. A fresh wind 
carried on the vessel rapidly. The name of Greece 


reawakened the courage of Octave. I salute you, he 
said to himself, oh land of heroes. And at midnight 
on the third of March, as the moon was rising behind 
Mount Kalos, a self-prepared mixture of opium and 
digitalis softly delivered Octave from that life of his 
which had been so agitated. He was found at 
dawn motionless on the bridge, resting on some 
cordage. A smile was on his lips, and his rare 
beauty struck even the sailors charged with his 

Stendhal's next work was the well-known Prome- 
nades en Rome, an admirable book entirely free from 
the taint of the conscientious sightseer, but replete with 
the original observations of an acute cosmopolitan 
who never shrinks from following his fancy along 
some amiable digression. It was however in Le Rouge 
etle Not'r, 1830, that Stendhal gave to the world his real 
masterpiece. This work, which has become since the 
end of the last century the revered object of the cult 
of the Rougistes, among whom it is a point of honour 
to know the whole book by heart, and which occupies 
an equal rank with that of the Comedie Humaine or 
Madame Bovary, is remarkable both by reason of the 
intrinsic character of the hero and the psychological 
technique with which the story is told. 

The hero, like Stendhal himself, possesses a sub- 
jective and sensitive mind, rendered tough and virile 
by the savage energy of the Revolution. In fact 
some previous knowledge both of Stendhal's life and 
Stendhal's character are requisite for the full ap- 
preciation of a book which, in spite of the fact 
that the hero is not only a seducer but also an 
attempted murderer, has yet some claim to be 
regarded as the dignified confession of a robust 

Julien Sorel is the son of a carpenter in a small 


provincial town. Proved guilty from his infancy of 
the unpardonable crime of being different from the 
average child, he is harshly treated by his father. 
The Napoleonic legend inflames his imagination, but 
he lives in the time of the Restoration, when it is the 
Church and not the Army which opens a career to the 
ambitious parvenu. By a stroke of fortune Julien 
obtains when nineteen the post of tutor to the 
children of the local mayor, M. de Renal. Feeling 
acutely the degradation of his menial position, he 
violently rebels against his own sensitiveness, as he 
deliberately forges the natural softness of his heart 
into the most brutal iron. Formulating the ideals 
of pride and success, he determines to live up to them 
at whatever cost either to himself or others. When 
consequently the charming though ordinary Mme. de 
Renal begins to manifest towards him a somewhat 
personal interest, he sets himself to force the pace, as 
a matter neither of sensuality nor even of politeness, 
but of sheer self-respect. What for instance are 
Julien's feelings during the first assignation ? 

u Instead of being attentive to the transports which 
he was bringing into existence, and to those feelings 
of remorse which somewhat dulled their vivacity, 
the idea of his duty never ceased to be present 
to his eyes. He was afraid of an awful remorse 
and of an eternal stultification if he should deviate 
from that ideal model which he proposed to follow." 
From being, however, the mere instrument of his 
ethical self-discipline, Mme. de Renal becomes the 
sincere object of his romantic devotion. But the 
intrigue is discovered and Julien is packed off to a 
theological seminary. Though a devout freethinker, 
he sacrifices his beliefs to his ambition. His deviation 
from the mediocre pattern renders him Unpopular, 
but his very unpopularity only serves to stiffen his 



perverse obstinacy for success. After an agonising 
struggle he succeeds in winning the due of abilities, 
and goes to Paris to become secretary to the Marquis 
de la Mole, an influential nobleman, drawn after the 
model of the author's relative, Comte Daru. He gains 
the confidence of his employer, which he rewards by 
an intrigue with his daughter Mathilde (Mme. Daru). 
Here again it is stern devotion to principle, not natural 
love, which is the motive. It is in fact on purely 
ethical and idealistic considerations that he goes to 
the nocturnal rendezvous in the same spirit that a 
soldier goes to the field of battle or a martyr to the 
stake. And as Banti in that variation of Hamlet's 
soliloquy of " To be or not to be," which we have 
already considered, clinched the question by the con- 
sideration that if he did not embrace the opportunity 
he would regret it all his life, so did Julien exclaim : 
u Au fond il y a de la lachete a ne pas y aller, ce 
mot decide tout." Note also the masterly delineation 
of the girl herself, who, yielding originally by reason 
neither of her love nor her weakness, but simply 
through her romantic desire to emulate an illustrious 
ancestress, falls completely in love and manifests a 
courage which in spite of some affectation is none 
the less genuine. The Marquis de la Mole is com- 
pelled to promise to recognise Julien as his son-in- 
law and procures for him a commission in the army. 
But now just when the hero's ambitions are beginning 
to realise themselves, Mme. de R&nal writes, under 
priestly instigation, a slanderous letter to his pro- 
spective father-in-law, who withdraws his consent to 
the marriage. Julien in a fit of rage shoots at Mme. 
de Renal, gives himself up, and dies " poetically " on 
the scaffold. 

It is not surprising that in view of these facts 
critics lacking in subtlety have found the character 


of Julien the wildest of impossibilities, the most 
monstrous of distortions. It is, however, a reason- 
ably safe maxim to assume that those characters in 
novels which are thought to be too bizarre to exist 
are taken from actual life. In this case the actual 
framework of fact is drawn from the history of a young 
student of Besancon named Berthet, while as we 
have already seen his mental attitude is that of 
Stendhal himself. While no doubt a villain from 
the ethical standpoint of a modern serial, Julien is 
none the less, viewed more deeply, the Nietzschean 
knight-errant of energy and efficiency, the successful 
pursuer of a subjective ideal, and a perfect example 
of the Aristotelian virtue of eyKpareia. Of all the 
discontented young idealists of the literature of the 
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who 
find themselves thrown into collision with con- 
ventional society, the Werthers, the Ren6s, the Don 
Juans, the Karl Moors, and the Vivian Greys, Julien 
Sorel is by far the most interesting and intellectually 
by far the most respectable. He has no hysterical 
and visionary aspirations, no mawkish Weltschmerz. A 
phenomenal power of analysis renders his aim direct 
and simple. He proposes to open the oyster of the 
world with the sword of his intellect. Le Rouge et le 
Noir is the tragedy of energy and ambition, the epic 
of the struggle for existence. 

Reverting from the emotional content of the book 
to its more technical characteristics, it may be 
claimed that it was the first novel in the history of 
European literature to portray with successful con- 
sistency a series of characters alternately complex 
and simple, in a style which, whatever might be 
the personal sympathies and aversions of the author, 
subordinated all picturesque flourishes to his cardinal 
aim of psychological truth. For on the principle 


that the external life is but the mere mechanical 
expression of the life carried on within the mind, 
Stendhal portrays his characters by describing their 
mental processes. This method is of course most 
palpable in Julien, who lives in a chronic state of 
soliloquy which fails, however, to blunt the edge of 
his drastic action, and who keeps inside his brain a 
register which tickets every process with the most 
copious annotations. But even such comparatively 
simple characters as M. Renal, the purse-proud mayor 
of a petty provincial town ; Mme. de Renal, the con- 
ventionally adulterous wife ; abbe Pirard, the Jan- 
senist priest, all think too according to their dimmer 
lights and their limited intelligences, and their thoughts 
also are duly recorded with scientific precision. 

The same year in which Le Rouge et le Noir was 
published, Stendhal wrote his other great work La 
Chartreuse de Parme, which while thought by Taine and 
Balzac, though not by Goethe, to have been his master- 
piece, certainly lacks the original outlook and concen- 
trated force of the earlier work. In this book, which 
describes all the ramifying intrigues of that Italian 
court life which Stendhal knew and loved so well, the 
rich tapestry of romance is successfully embroidered 
by the needle of the psychologist. The rapid succes- 
sion of adventure is not an end in itself, but simply a 
means to the setting in motion of this numerous array 
of characters whose cerebral interiors are so faith- 
fully portrayed ; Fabrice del Dougo, the hero, no 
Ishmael of the intellect like Julien, but a jeune premier 
with a soul, who runs a wild career of military ardour, 
amoristic extravagance, justifiable homicide, and 
political persecution, only finally to fall in love with 
his gaoler's daughter and die in the self-chosen exile 
of a Trappist monastery ; the Duchess of Sanseverina 
(a reincarnation of Stendhal's mistress, Countess 


Pietragrua), his dashing and magnanimous aunt who 
loves him with an ardour which the reader thinks 
must at any rate have needed a papal dispensation ; 
Count Mosca, the hardened minister and man of the 
world who is yet capable of all the devotion of a 
grand passion; his enemy, the grotesque and plebeian 
Raversi ; the loyal and sonneteering coachman, Ludo- 
vici ; the pretty and amiable little actress Marietta with 
her obstreperous lover and her avaricious duenna ; 
Ranuce Ernest of Parma studiously living up to his 
majestic role ; and most romantic if not most inter- 
esting of all, Clelia Conti, with her pathetic clash of 
amoristic devotion and filial duty. 

In 1830 the monetary embarrassments of Stendhal 
forced him to leave Paris and take up the post of 
consul at Trieste. The Ultramontanes, however, 
with a not unnatural desire to be revenged on a man 
whose attitude to the Church is well crystallised in 
the phrase that "the priests were the true enemies 
of all civilisation," drove him from his position, and 
he was transferred to Civita Vecchia where he re- 
mained till 1835, solacing his ennui by the compi- 
lation of his autobiography and thinking seriously 
of marriage with the rich and highly respectable 
daughter of his laundress. Returning to Paris, 
Stendhal completed Litcien Leuwert, that long posthu- 
mous romance of the financial, literary, and political 
life of the age of Louis Philippe, a work which, 
though lacking something of the high vital quality of 
La Chartreuse and Le Rouge et le Noir, does ample 
justice to the encyclopaedic powers of the author's 
observation. For here too we trace the personal 
Stendhalian characteristics, the sympathy with the 
isolated intellectual, the contempt for the bourgeois 
and the philistine, the idealisation of an efficiency 
that is not always achieved. We may perhaps give 


a quotation which well illustrates the friendly malice 
with which this detached novelist treats even his 
most favoured heroes : 

* He talked for the sake of talking, he bandied the pro and the 
con, he exaggerated and altered the circumstances of every story 
which he told, and he told a great many and at great length. In 
a word he talked like a young man of parts from the provinces ; 
and consequently his success was immense." 

And how neat in the subtle simplicity of its irony 
is the following : 

"He was received in this house with that stiffness resulting 
from baulked hopes of matrimony which has the knack of making 
itself felt in such a variety of ways and in so amiable a manner 
in a family composed of six young ladies who are particularly 

Returning to Paris, Stendhal commenced in 1838 
the last of his novels, the posthumous and unfinished 
Lamiel. Influenced, though by no means discour- 
aged by the lack of success of his other novels, he 
determined to write u in a wittier style on a more 
intelligible subject," and with regard to each incident 
to ask himself the question, " Should it be described 
philosophically or described narratively according to 
the doctrine of Ariosto ? " Hence Lamiel, the most 
fascinating feminine character in the whole of the 
Stendhalian literature. For Lamiel is a young 
woman possessed simultaneously of a brisk intel- 
lectual honesty, a lively humour, a charming naivete, 
and a Nietzschean outlook on a tumultuous world. 
" Her character was based on a profound disgust 
for pusillanimity," and " where there was no danger 
there she found no pleasure." The whole book is 
crisp with the true comic spirit. The scene in 
particular in which Lamiel purchases her first lesson 
in the essential element of human knowledge, as a 
mere matter of intellectual curiosity, is a masterpiece 


of racy delicacy. Yet acuteness of psychology is never 
sacrificed to airiness of style. Sansfin the malicious 
hump-backed doctor, Comte D'Aubign Nerwinde 
the snob, "a serious, prudent, and melancholy para- 
gon always preoccupied with public opinion," the 
plebeian parents of Lamiel, the pompous duchess, 
the conventional young lord, are all portrayed with 
a delightful malice whose satire is never too extrava- 
gant to be otherwise than convincing. 

But it is Lamiel herself who dominates the 
book, Lamiel with that mixture of high flippancy 
and deep seriousness which is so essentially at- 
tractive, ever developing fresh phases in response 
to her repeated change of environment, yet ever 
retaining a fundamental consistency with her original 
character. It can only be regretted that Stendhal 
should have left unfinished what might well have 
been possibly the greatest, and certainly the most 
amusing of all his novels, and that having traced the 
adventures of his heroine from her plebeian origin 
to the aristocratic chateau, and from the aristocratic 
chateau to Paris, he should finally leave her floating 
jauntily amid all the rich welter of Parisian life 
with only a synopsis of those subsequent experiences 
which if undergone would have entitled her to rank 
as one of the most truly romantic characters in the 
whole of fiction. 

In 1842, Stendhal, with his physical and in- 
tellectual faculties still unimpaired, died suddenly 
at the age of fifty-nine. Like his hero Julien, he 
was " game " to the last, and " I have struck nothing- 
ness " was his self-given substitute for the more 
orthodox viaticum. 

In endeavouring to adjudicate finally the value of 
Stendhal, it is difficult not to yield to the fascination 
of his cock-sure prophecy of his eventual fame. 


For as Stendhal the man, in his autobiographical 
writings, La Vie de Henri Brulard, Le Journal, and 
Souvenirs d 'Egotisme, would project his ego some 
years forward and as it were shake hands with 
himself across the gulf of time, so, one can almost 
say, Stendhal, the incarnation of the early nineteenth- 
century Zeitgeist, with his genial greeting, " Je serai 
compris vers 1880," shakes hands with those modern 
men of the world who rightly or wrongly have 
imagined themselves to be incarnations of the 
Zeitgeist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries, as they look back with appreciative 
camaraderie at this earlier manifestation of their 
own selves. And this no doubt is why Stendhal, 
viewed of course with a not unnatural Ultramon- 
tane frigidity by such critics as Sainte-Beuve or Emil 
Faguet, has become the spoilt darling of Nietzsche, 
Taine, and Bourget, and indeed all the more in- 
tellectual spirits in modern French and German 

The life of Stendhal no doubt may not have 
been as ideally satisfactory as his theories may have 
warranted. A man, who professed to find his chief 
interest in life in the erotic emotion, he played as 
often as not the role of the unhappy lover. His 
spasmodic fits of political and military ambition 
spluttered out in the self-complacent consciousness 
of their own intensity. He suffered throughout his 
life from being a dilettante with a financial com- 
petence. Yet it is no small achievement to have 
chased happiness so consistently and with so male 
an energy, to have kept unjaded to the last his 
intellectual gusto and the appetite of his j'oie de 
vivre, and to have been the first man in European 
literature to have put into efficient practice, without 
thereby in any way detracting from the clearness of 


his own personal note, the important principle that 
the elaborate delineation of character is even more 
the function of the novel than adventurous action 
or picturesque description. And so it is that we 
entitle Stendhal the patentee of psychology, the 
inventor of introspection, and take our leave of him 
with his own epitaph : 

Qui giace 
Arrigo Beyle Milanese 
isse, scrisse, amo. 


Heine seems, viewed superficially, the most baffling, 
elusive, and inconsistent of all writers, the veritable 
Proteus of poetry. He has so many shapes, that at 
the first blush it seems almost impossible to grasp 
finally and definitely the one genuine Heine. What is 
really this man who is now a gamin and now an 
angel, whose face seems almost simultaneously to 
wear the sardonic grin of a Mephistopheles and the 
wistful smile of a Christ, this flaunting Bohemian who 
has written some of the tenderest love songs in 
literature, this cosmopolitan who cherished the 
deepest feelings for his fatherland, this incarnate 
paradox who almost at one and the same moment is 
swashbuckler and martyr, French and German, 
Hebrew and Greek, revolutionary and aristocrat, 
optimist and pessimist, idealist and mocker, believer 
and infidel ? 

Yet it is even because of this surface inconsistency, 
this psychological many-sidedness that Heine is a 
great poet and the one who, mirroring in his own 
mind the complexity that he saw without, is typically 
representative of the varied phases of the early nine- 
teenth century. Heine looks at life from every con- 
ceivable aspect: he sees the gladness of life and rejoices 
therein; he sees the tears of life and weeps ; he sees 
the tragedy of life and cannot control his sobs ; he sees 
the farce of life and finds equal difficulty in control- 
ling his laughter. "Ah, dear reader," says Heine, 
u if you want to complain that the poet is torn both 



ways, complain rather that the world is torn in two. 
The poet's heart is the core of the world, and in this 
present time it must of necessity be grievously rent. 
The great world-rift clove right through my heart, 
and even thereby do I know that the great gods have 
given me of their grace and preference and deemed 
me worthy of the poet's martyrdom." 

The first half of the nineteenth century, in fact, 
in which Heine lived, is, like any transition period, 
disturbed, unsettled, paradoxical. The most diverse 
tendencies boil and bubble together in the crucible ; 
the Revolution and the Reaction, Romanticism and 
Hellenism, materialism and mysticism, democracy 
and aristocracy, poetry and science, all ferment apace 
in the psychological Witches' Cauldron of the age. 

Heine simply represented the illusions and dis- 
illusions of this age, or to put it with greater precision, 
he represented the clash and contrast between these 
illusions and disillusions. To arrive then at a correct 
appreciation of Heine it will be necessary to glance 
first at the main currents of the contemporary events, 
the political movements of the Revolution and the 
Reaction, and the literary movements of Romanticism 
and ^stheticism. 

All these currents flow either directly or indirectly 
from the French Revolution. To the more sanguine 
and poetical minds of the time the Revolution had 
manifested itself as a species of Armageddon, a 
gigantic cataclysm, which, sweeping away all existing 
institutions with one great shock, was to leave to 
mankind an untrammelled existence of natural and 
idyllic perfection. These dreamers were destined to be 
rudely disappointed. The Holy Alliance temporarily 
suppressed the Revolution at Waterloo, and an efficient 
Reaction reigned both in France and in Germany. 
A great religious revival set in in Prussia, culminating 


in the Concordat with the Pope in 1821. The Press 
was gagged by a rigid censorship, while the students 
at the universities were subjected to the most rigorous 
police espionage. From the point of view of the 
German idealists who hoped for liberty and progress, 
the Revolution had ended in the most dismal of 

Parallel with the Revolution ran Romanticism, 
which eventually merged in orthodoxy, or, to put it 
more accurately, in a mystical Catholicism. The 
cardinal characteristic of Romanticism was the revolt 
of the individual against the stereotyped prosaic life 
of the classical eighteenth century. This revolt 
manifested itself in the most untrammelled freedom 
of the ego, which either took to rioting in an elabo- 
rate self-analysis, as did Hofmann and Jean Paul 
Richter, or else simply abandoning ordinary life 
gave itself up to the cult of the bizarre, the mystic, 
the mediaeval, and the exotic, and fell in love 
with the Infinite, or, to use the terminology of 
the school, the Blue Flower. Though, however, 
Heine was in his poetic youth largely influenced by 
the Romanticists (he was, in fact, dubbed by a 
Frenchman with tolerable reason an "unfrocked 
Romantic "), the essence of his maturer outlook on 
life is far from being romantic. The life-outlook of 
the Romanticists consisted in a vague yearning for 
the ideal without any reference to this earthly life ; 
the life-outlook of Heine on the other hand was 
made up largely of the almost brutal contrast between 
the ideal and the real, between life as it was dreamed 
and life as it actually was. 

Another current of thought which it is necessary 
to mention, though of course it exercised rather 
less influence on Heine than did Romanticism, was 
the aesthetic neo- Hellenic movement represented by 


Winckelmann, Lessing, and to a certain extent by 

Heine, however, though a lover of the beautiful, 
lacked almost entirely the plastic genius and marble 
serenity of Hellas, and is, as will be shown later, 
only a Greek in the exuberance of his joie de vivre. 
To summarise then the main tendencies of the age in 
which Heine was born, we can see these four dis- 
tinct currents the glorious ideals of the French 
Revolution, the official reaction against these ideals, 
the cult of the bizarre and the infinite yearning of 
Romanticism, and the Hellenism of the aesthetic 
movement. Let us now turn to the poet's life, and 
examine the part played by environment, race, and 
parentage in moulding his character. 

Heine was born in Diisseldorf on December 1797, 
and not as is currently supposed in 1799. 

The Catholic Rhineland, in which Diisseldorf is 
situated, rebelled more than almost any other district 
in Germany against the despotism of the Prussian 
bureaucracy ; it possessed an almost southern joie de 
vivre, and only naturally exhibited a distinct inclina- 
tion to the Catholicism of the Romanticists, all of 
which characteristics in a greater or less degree are 
to be found in Heine. 

Further, Heine was a Jew, possessing, in conse- 
quence, an hereditary tendency to gravitate to the 
extreme left wing both of thought and of politics, 
while the inborn Judenschmerz in his heart was aggra- 
vated by the anti-Semitic reaction which followed 
the benevolent tolerance of Napoleon. 

The poet's father, Samson Heine, was an easy- 
going, aesthetic nonentity in moderate circumstances, 
who does not appear to have exercised any serious 
influence on the child's development. This was 
accomplished by the mother, nee von Geldern, a 


cultured and strong-minded woman, and a Voltairean 
by belief, who did her best to foster and stimulate 
her son's youthful intelligence. The favourite 
authors of the young Heine were Cervantes, Sterne, 
and Swift. Of contemporaries, the two men who 
exercised any real influence were the Emperor 
Napoleon, and Byron, (i the kingly man " and the 
aristocratic revolutionary. Napoleon in particular 
was the god of his boyish adoration. This Napole- 
onic enthusiasm was largely fostered by Heine's 
friendship with a grenadier drummer of the French 
army named Le Grand, while it reached its climax 
when he beheld with his own eyes the beatific vision 
of the Emperor himself riding on his beautiful white 
palfrey through the Hofgarten Allee at Diisseldorf, in 
splendid defiance of the police regulations, which 
forbade such riding under a penalty of five thalers. 

This worship of the Emperor, moreover, resulted in 
the wonderful poem called " The Grenadiers," written 
at the age of eighteen. The swing and power of the 
poem have made it classic, especially the great final 
stanza beginning: 

" Denn reitet mein Kaiser wohl iiber mein Grab." 

Heine received his early education at a Jesuit 
monastery. The first event of any moment in his 
life, however, is his calf-love for Josepha, or Sefchen, 
the executioner's daughter, a weird fantastic beauty 
of fifteen, with large dark eyes and blood-red hair. 
Josepha was the inspiration of the juvenile Dream 
Pictures incorporated subsequently in the Book of 
Songs, and exhibiting a genuine power and an even 
more genuine promise. 

In 1816 Heine was sent into the office of Solomon 
Heine, his millionaire uncle of Hamburg. 

He seems to have been singularly destitute of the 


financial genius of his race, and the business career 
proved from the outset a fiasco. The real key, 
however, to the three years spent in Hamburg is 
supplied not by Money, but by Love. Having 
served his apprenticeship in Diisseldorf with his calf- 
attachment to the executioner's daughter, Heine 
proceeded straightway to a grande passion for his 
uncle's pretty daughter Amalie. His love was not 
reciprocated, and in 1821 the beauteous Amalie 
married a wealthy landowner of Konigsberg. This 
Amalie incident was one of the most important in 
Heine's life, and is largely responsible for his early 
cynicism. He was disillusioned with a vengeance, 
and could now with his own eyes inspect the flimsy 
material of which " Love's Young Dream " is wove. 
Though, however, a great personal blow, this abortive 
passion is also to be regarded as an invaluable 
aesthetic asset. The poet of necessity is bound to 
write of his own personal impressions and experi- 
ences ; and it is obvious that the intenser aTe these 
experiences, the more vital will be his poetry. If 
Heine's love for Amalie was the accursed flame that 
seared his soul, it was also the sacred fire that kindled 
his inspiration, and it is to Amalie that we owe not 
only a great part of the Book of Songs, but also 
much which is characteristic of Heine's subsequent 

In 1 8 19, probably because Heine had given con- 
vincing proofs of his business inefficiency, it was 
decided that he should go to Bonn to study law. 
He neglected his studies, and it was not long before 
he fell foul of the authorities, owing to his anticipa- 
tion in the proceedings of the Burschenschaften or 
student political unions. 

In 1820 Heine left Bonn for Gottingen. At 
Gottingen his career was brief but thrilling, and he 


was rusticated after a few months on account of a 
proposed duel with an impertinent junker. 

Transferring his quarters to Berlin, he now spent 
by far the most enjoyable period of his university 
career. The intellectual atmosphere of Berlin was 
quicker and less pedantic than that of Gottingen, and 
he plunged into his studies with considerable energy. 

In 182 1 Heine published the first volume of his 
poems, containing the Dream Pictures, some miscel- 
laneous juvenile poems, and the Lyrisches Intermezzo, 
which was inspired by the banker's, in the same way 
that the Dream Pictures had been inspired by the 
executioner's, daughter. 

The book was an immediate success, how great 
may be gauged by the numerous parodies and imita- 
tions which it almost instantaneously evoked. It was 
at this period that he wrote the two romantic tragedies 
of Ratcliff and Almansor. Both failures and devoid 
of much merit, they served none the less useful 
purpose of advertising his fame. 

In 1823 we see an echo of his passion for Amalie 
in his love for his younger cousin Therese, who 
seems in many respects to have been a replica of 
her elder sister. Therese, however, refused to be 
anything more than a cousin to him, and his heart was 
still further embittered as is shown by the poem : 

" Wer zum erstenmale liebt 
Sei's auch gliicklos ist ein Gott 
Aber wer zum zweitenmale 
Gliicklos liebt, er ist ein Narr 
Ich, ein solcher Narr, ich liebe 
Wieder ohne Gegenliebe ; 
Sonne, Mond und Sterne lachen 
Und ich lache mit und sterbe." 

In 1824 he decided to prosecute his studies for 
his doctorial degree with greater seriousness, and 
leaving behind him the distractions of the capital, 


went back once more to the more staid and prosaic 

Heine intended not merely to take a degree for 
the sake of ornament, but also to practise seriously 
as a lawyer. How serious were these intentions 
may be seen from the fact that he went to the length 
of paying in advance the heavy entrance fee which 
the legal profession then exacted from Jews, and 
became baptized " as a Protestant and a Lutheran to 
boot" on June 28, 1825. 

Heine's conversion has frequently been criticised 
with superfluous harshness. Let him, however, 
explain his position for himself : 

" At that time I myself was still a god, and none of the positive 
religions had more value for me than another; I could only wear 
their uniforms as a matter of courtesy, on the same principle that 
the Emperor of Russia dresses himself up as an officer of the 
Prussian Guard when he honours his imperial cousin with a visit 
to Potsdam." 

After all, his apostasy brought with it its own 
punishment, not only in its deep-felt shame, but in 
the fact that he eventually threw up law for literature, 
and thus rendered so great a sacrifice of racial loyalty 
and his own self-respect consummately futile. After 
selling his birthright he found that he had absolutely 
no use for the mess of pottage which he had pur- 

In the summer of 1825, Heine, having just suc- 
ceeded in passing his degree, proceeded to the little 
island of Norderney, off the coast of Holland, to 
recuperate. Living ardently the simple life and in- 
dulging to the full his passion for the sea, he now 
wrote not only the second part of the Reisebilder, 
entitled Norderney, but the far greater Nordsee Cyklus, 
which in its irregular swinging metre expresses with 
such marvellous efficiency the whole roar and gran- 



deur of the ocean. Speaking generally, of course, 
Heine was too subjective to be a real nature poet. 
No writer, it is true, fills up so freely and with so 
fantastic an elegance the blank cheques of nightingales 
and violets, lilies and roses, stars and moonshine, 
yet none the less these rather served to grace his 
measure than as his real flame. His one genuine love 
was the sea. With the sea he felt a deep psycho- 
logical affinity. The sea was the symbol of his own 
infinite restlessness, of his own divine discontent, and 
mirrored in the sea's ever-changing waters he beheld 
the incessant smiles and storms of his own soul. 

" I love the sea, even as my own soul," he writes. " Often do I 
fancy that the sea is in truth my very soul ; and as in the sea 
there are hidden water-plants that only swim up to the surface at 
the moment of their bloom and sink down again at the moment of 
their decay, even so do wondrous flower-pictures swim up out of the 
depths of my soul, spread their light and fragrance, and again 

In 1826 Heine published the Heimkehr, the Nordsee 
Cyklus, the airy and sparkling Harzreise, and the 
first part of the Reisebilder. 

From Norderney Heine moved to Hamburg, 
avowedly to practise, though it does not appear 
that he took his profession with much seriousness. 
At any rate, until 183 1, when he migrated to Paris, 
his career is excessively erratic. At one moment 
he is paying a flying visit to England, " the land 
of roast beef and Yorkshire plum-pudding, where 
the machines behave like men and the men like 
machines " ; at another he is on the staff of the 
Allgemeinen Politischen Annalen and the Morgenblatt 
of Munich ; he is now in Hamburg, now in Frank- 
furt, and now in Italy, where his sojourn inspired 
the racy and brilliant Italy and Baths of Lucca, both 
of which works obtained the gratuitous and well- 


merited state advertisement of prohibition, and 
achieved a most undeniable succes de scandale. 

The departure to Paris marks an entirely new 
epoch in Heine's life, and offers a convenient 
stopping-place at which to give some account of 
his early poetry and prose, as exemplified in the 
Book of Songs, which was published in 1827, and 
the Reisebilder, the last part of which, the Baths of 
Lucca, was published in 18 31. 

Though neither the Book of Songs nor the Reise- 
bilder is as great or as characteristic as the Romanzero 
and Poetische Nachlese on the one hand, or the Salon 
on the other, they are yet by far the most popular 
of his works and contain some of his most delightful 
writing. One of the first traits that strikes us in 
the Book of Songs is the Romantic tendency to bizarre 
and exotic themes. In the funge Leiden and Lyrisches 
Intermezzo in particular we move in a ghostly atmos- 
phere of apparitions, sea-maidens, skeletons, and 
midnight churchyards. Another interesting charac- 
teristic of these poems is his deep love of the East, 
a love which is to be probably ascribed more to 
the general eastward gravitation of the Romantic 
school than to the poet's Oriental blood. This 
tendency is responsible for two of the most charming 
poems in the book, the exquisite lyric starting : 

" Auf Fliigeln des Gesanges 
Herzliebchen trag ich dich fort 
Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges 
Dort weiss ich den schonsten Ort. 

Dort liegt ein rotbluhender Garten 
Im stillen Mondenschein ; 
Die Lotosblumen erwarten 
Ihrtrautes Schwesterlein. " 


" Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam 
Im Norden auf kahler Hon', 


Ihn schlafert ; mit weisser Decke 
Umhiillen ihn Eis und Schnee. 
Er traumt von einer Palme, 
Die fern im Morgenland 
Einsam und schweigend trauert 
Auf brennender Felsenwand." 

This latter poem in particular illustrates admirably 
the vague melting, infinite yearning which Heine 
at first experienced as deeply as did any of the 
Romanticists. There are not wanting, however, 
and especially towards the end of the book, examples 
of his later manner, of that note of rebellion which 
he was afterwards to strike with such inimitable 
precision. Occasionally his wistful pessimism sud- 
denly changes into cynicism, and in reaction from 
his morbid sensitiveness he derives a sardonic satis- 
faction from probing his own wounds as in the 
already quoted " Wer zum erstenmale liebt," while 
in the mock-heroic Donna Clara and in the Frieden 
we see that artistic use of the anti-climax of which 
he was afterwards to acquire an even greater mastery. 
Even in the comparatively early Lyrisches Intermezzo 
we see him constantly playing on that contrast 
between the Real and the Ideal, between Dream 
Life and Waking Life, which formed so integral a 
part of his subsequent life-outlook. Speaking gener- 
ally, however, the Book of Songs exhibits the senti- 
mental rather than the cynical side of Heine's mind. 
It possesses moreover those qualities which remained 
in Heine throughout his life, the light, airy touch, 
the intimate personal note, the delicate lyric sweet- 
ness, and that concision which is found in poetry 
with such extreme rarity. 

Let us turn now to the Reisebilder. Its most 
dominant characteristics are its inimitable swing and 
the absolute irresponsibility of its transitions. The 
grave, the gay ; the lively, the severe ; the sublime, 


the ridiculous ; the reverent, the frivolous ; the 
refined, the crude ; the poetic, the obscene, all jostle 
pell-mell against each other in this most fascinating 
of literary kaleidoscopes. It is no mere guide-book, 
this record of his wanderings in the Harz, in Nor- 
derney, in England, and in Italy, but rather a 
description of those reflections on men and things 
which were suggested by his various adventures. 
In style the Reisebilder marks a new epoch in German 
prose, or, as has been said, showed for the first time 
since Lessing and Goethe that such a thing as 
German prose really did exist. Heine was the first 
to show convincingly that a Gallic grace and flexi- 
bility could be imparted into the cumbrous and 
heavy-footed Teutonic language. 

Psychologically the most interesting part of the 
Reisebilder is the fervent Napoleonic worship which, 
combined with his love of liberty and revolt against 
reaction, largely contributed to mould his life. The 
general tone, moreover, of political, sexual, and 
religious freedom that characterises the latter part 
of the Reisebilder rendered Heine not a little obnoxious 
to official Germany, not only because of the intrinsic 
heresy of the sentiments themselves, but of the 
joyous rollicking insolence with which they were 

It is small wonder, then, that the Paris July 
Revolution of 1830 made the poet feel " as if he could 
set the whole ocean up to the very North Pole on 
fire with the red-heat of enthusiasm and mad joy 
that worked in him," and that in the spring of 1831 
he migrated finally and definitely from Germany to 

This migration to Paris marks the turning-point in 
Heine's life. His career in Germany had throughout 
been erratic, unsatisfactory, and hampered by political 


restrictions. In Paris he settled down, felt that now 
at last he was in a congenial element, and found 
himself. It was at Paris that he wrote his most 
brilliant prose and found inspiration for his highest 
poetry, that he experienced his wildest joys and his 
intensest sufferings. The first ten years of his 
sojourn were probably the happiest in his life. His 
increased literary and journalistic earnings helped to 
solve the financial problem, while socially he was, as 
always, a pronounced success. He soon found his 
way into the centre of the artistic set of the capital, 
and was on a footing of intimacy with such writers 
as Lafayette, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, 
Thophile Gautier, Michelet, Dumas, Gerard de 
Nerval, Hector Berlioz, Ludwig Borne, Schlegel, 
and Humboldt. In social life Heine's most charac- 
teristic feature was wit a wit so irrepressible as 
to burst forth impartially on practically all occa- 
sions, and to resemble that of the Romans of the 
early Empire, who preferred to lose their heads 
rather than their epigrams. Yet in private life he 
was a devoted son and brother, an ideal husband. 
The correspondence which he maintained up to his 
death with his sister Lotte and his mother show con- 
clusively what stores of German Gemilt he treasured 
in his heart. Particularly significant is the fact that 
during the whole eight years in which he languished 
in his mattress-grave he assiduously concealed from 
his mother the real state of his health. Yet none the 
less " he could hate deeply and grimly with an energy 
which I have never yet met in any other man, but 
only because he could love with equal intensity," 
writes the poet's friend, Meissner. Heine disap- 
proved on principle of swallowing an injury ; when 
he was hit, he hit back. Not infrequently, as in his 
rather scandalous attack on Borne, he would riposte 


with somewhat superfluous efficiency, though accord- 
ing to his own theories it must have been after all 
only a mistake on the safe side. 

" Yes," writes Heine, u one must forgive one's 
enemies, but not until they have been hanged." 

Heine's quarrel with Borne originally arose out of 
the abomination with which Borne, who was Radical 
to the point of fanaticism, regarded the somewhat 
poetic and elastic Liberalism of his fellow-Jew, and it 
is instructive to enter into an examination of the 
depth and strength of those views which supplied the 
real motive power which drove him from Germany 
to France. There can be no doubt that Heine 
himself took his Liberalism with perfect seriousness. 
" In truth I know not," he writes, " if I merit that 
my coffin should be decorated with a laurel wreath. 
However much I loved Poesy, she was ever to me 
only a holy toy or a consecrated means for heavenly 
ends. It is rather a sword that they should lay on 
my coffin, for I was a brave soldier in the Liberation 
War of Humanity." It should be observed, however, 
that this Liberal had the most aristocratic contempt 
for the uncultured $rj/j.o$, as is shown by passages such 
as the following : "The horny hands of the Social- 
ists who will unpityingly break all the marble statues 
which are so dear to my heart " ; and, " If Democracy 
really triumphs, it is all up with poetry." 

Yet there can be no gainsaying that Heine's politi- 
cal orthodoxy was perfectly unimpeachable on that 
anti-clericalism which has always been one of the 
most cardinal points of Continental Liberalism. 

He is rarely tired of tilting at Catholicism, and 
while he regarded ascetic mediaeval Catholicism as 
the vampire which sucked the blood and light out of 
the hearts of men, he dubbed the modern Catholic 
reactionaries in Germany "the Party of lies, the 


ruffians of Despotism, the restorers of all the folly 
and abomination of the Past." 

Yet, if his beliefs were too wide to admit of the 
narrowness of a consistent partisanship, his enthusiasm 
was deep and sincere for the joy, light, and liberty of 
a new era that was to sweep away all the unhealthy 
and plaguy humours of that blind, delirious, and 
anaemic mediaevaldom, which, to use his own phrase, 
has spread over the countries like an infectious disease, 
till Europe was but one huge hospital. Politically, 
in fine, Heine is a brilliant freelance, who, too proud 
to wear the uniform of party, none the less fought 
valiantly for the army of Progress and Humanity, a 
forlorn outpost in the War of Freedom. 1 

Heine's polemical modernity manifested itself most 
efficiently in the Deutschland, which, together with its 
sequel, The Romantic School, was issued as a counter- 
blast to Madame de StaeTs work of the same name. 
This history of the religion, literature, and philosophy 
of Germany is the masterpiece of Heine's extant 
prose. An academic philosophic treatise, of course, 
it neither is nor professes to be. As a description 
half-serious, half-flippant, however, of the main 
currents of modern and mediaeval Germany by a 
writer who sees life from the bird's-eye view of the 
combined poet, journalist, thinker, and man of the 
world, it is unrivalled. It contains some of Heine's 
loftiest and most sublime flights, some of his most 
brilliant and trenchant epigrams. 

Particularly happy is the comparison drawn be- 
tween the furious onslaughts made by the French 
Revolutionists under Robespierre and the German 
philosophers under Kant on respectively the divine 
rights of kings and the divine rights of God. 

1 Cf. the poem '* Enfant perdu," beginning " Verlorner Posten in dem 
Freiheits Kriege." 


How delicious is the conclusion of the parallel 
between the two men : " Each eminently represents 
the ideal middle-class type Nature had decreed that 
they should weigh out coffee and sugar, but Fate 
willed that they should weigh out other things, and 
in the scales of the one did she lay a King and in 
the scales of the other a God. . . . 

" And they both gave exact weight." 

As, however, has been previously pointed out, 
Heine's chief characteristic as a prose writer is that 
marvellous elasticity which can rebound from the 
frivolous to the sublime with the most consummate 
ease and celerity. Interspersed with the bright flash- 
light of the epigrammatic pyrotechnics lie really great 
passages, and pieces in particular like those on Luther 
and Goethe possess the clear golden ring of the 
grand style. 

Heine's political ideals were subjected to the in- 
evitable disillusionment. The Revolution of July, 
which he had fondly hoped would complete the work 
of the great movement of 1793, merely resulted in 
the anti-climax of the establishment of a bourgeois 
constitution under a bourgeois monarch. He tended 
to become generally embittered. Money matters, too, 
began to irritate him, and his health to give him 
trouble, and though he found a devoted sick-nurse 
in Matilde Crescenzia Mirat, a grisette whom he 
married in 1841, the lady with whom "he quar- 
relled daily for six years in that life-long duel at the 
termination of which only one of the combatants 
would be left alive," yet none the less his condition 
began to deteriorate. "The damp cold days and 
black long nights of his exile " oppressed him, 
and he began to yearn for the old German soil. 
He gratified his Heimweh by a flying and surreptitious 
visit to Germany that inspired the well-known Germany 


or a Winter Tale, which, together with the somewhat 
similar Atta Troll, constitutes his most sustained 
poetic achievement. These two poems are about as 
characteristic as anything which he wrote. They 
represent admirably his wild classic Dionysiac fantasy, 
his sudden dips from the most extravagant Romanti- 
cism to the harsh, crude facts of reality, the marvel- 
lous swing and sweep of his Aristophanic humour. 

Very typical is the following satire on the 
intimate relation between anthropo- and arcto- 

" Up above in star-pavilion, 
On his golden throne of lordship, 
Ruling worlds with sway majestic, 
Sits a Polar bear colossal. 

Stainless, snow-white shines the glamour 
Of his skin, his head is wreathed 
With a diadem of diamonds, 
Flashing light through all the heavens. 

Harmony rests in his visage, 
And the silent deeds of thought, 
Just a whit he bends his sceptre, 
And the spheres they ring and sing." 

The above quotation shows excellently the essenti- 
ally poetic quality by which Heine's wit is illumined. 
A satirist as keen and vivid as Voltaire, he possesses 
all the logical aptness of the Frenchman without 
his dryness. His chief characteristic, in fact, is the 
method by which in his imaginative flights he com- 
bines the maximum of this logical aptness with the 
maximum of humorous incongruity. No humorist 
dives for his metaphors into stranger water or brings 
up from the deep more bizarre and fantastic gems. 
A charming example of Heinean humour is the 
following passage from one of his prefaces : u A 
pious Quaker once sacrificed his whole fortune in buy- 
ing up the most beautiful of the mythological pictures 


of Giulio Romano in order to consign them to the 
flames verily he merits thereby to go to heaven and 
be whipped with birches regularly every day." 

One of the most cardinal traits of Heine's 
wit and humour is a phenomenal freedom of tone 
and language, a freedom that is occasionally not 
always in the most unimpeachable taste. Heine, 
in fact, is a writer who admits the public gratis to 
his psychological toilette, where he exposes with 
studied recklessness his most private thoughts. This 
question cuts too deep into Heine's life-outlook 
to be lightly passed over, and necessitates some 
examination. In the first place even Heine's most 
enthusiastic admirer will admit that a great deal of 
this licence is sheer gaminerie ; Heine is the mis- 
chievous schoolboy of literature who thoroughly 
revels in being naughty, grimacing by an almost 
mechanical instinct, so soon as he catches a glimpse 
of the sacred figures of religion and sex. Like 
Baudelaire, he loves, almost indeed as a matter of 
conscientious principle, to make the hairs of the 
philistines stand on end. His one excuse, however, 
is that even when he causes the hairs of the 
philistines almost to spring from their roots, as 
indeed he does not infrequently, he conducts the 
operation with so light a touch, so exquisite a grace, 
that the offence is almost redeemed. Let him speak 
in his own defence in the lines from the great 
Jewish poem, " Jehudah Halevy " : 

" As in Life so too in poetry 
Grace is aye Man's highest Good ; 
Who has grace, he never sinneth 
Not in verse nor e'en in prose. 

And by God's grace such a poet 
Genius we do entitle, 
King supreme and uncontrolled 
In the great desmesne of thought." 


Not unnaturally his coarseness grew apace with 
the virulence of his disease, and he himself explains 
his cause to his friend " La Mouche " : u Vois-tu 
c'est la faute de la mort qui arrive a grands pas, et 
quand je la sens ainsi tout pres de moi comme a 
present j'ai besoin de me cramponner la vie ne fut 
ce par une poutre pourrie." This final phase in 
fact was simply a reaction against his fate, and is 
not altogether without analogy to that same psycho- 
logical principle which dictated much of the crude 
buffoonery of Swift and Carlyle by way of an heroic 
protest against their own helplessness. 

Far more important, however, is the fact that 
this particular trait of Heine is profoundly symbolic 
of his outlook on life, especially where an obscene 
jest marks the climax of a genuinely poetical flight. 
Circumstance turned him into a cynic, who saw 
frequently in Liberty but the uprising of a squalid 
proletariate, who heard in the " sweet lies of the 
nightingale, the flatterer of spring," merely the 
"harbingers of the decay of its queenliness," and 
who beheld in love but a mere illusion of the senses 
that vanishes so soon as the beloved one utters a 
syllable. Held fast in the grip of the great World- 
paradox, Heine is forced to look at life as a glaring 
phantasmagoria of blacks and whites, in which the 
sublime and the ridiculous, the pathetic and the 
grotesque, the refined and the crude, dance along 
hand in hand till they become so confused that it is 
impossible for the observer to distinguish the indi- 
vidual partners, and he is reduced to describing, 
in pairs, the giddy, whirling couples that make up 
the fantastic medley. 

This incessant antithesis makes Heine one of the 
most complete of modern writers. 

The poet's world is composed of two hemispheres : 


one is the abode of the beautiful, the grand, the 
tragic ; the other of the ugly, the petty, the comic. 
Most poets confine their efforts to only a small 
portion of one of these hemispheres. Heine, how- 
ever, is the Atlas of poetry, who supports both of 
the half-spheres of the world, and who, by way of 
proving how easily his burden sits upon him, sud- 
denly turns juggler, and after showing his audience 
one side of the magic globe, will, hey presto ! whisk 
the whole world round, and before they know where 
they are smilingly confront them with the other. 

In 1848 the spinal affection from which he suffered 
became so acute that Heine was compelled to take 
to that mattress-grave where, paralytic and half- 
blind and racked intermittently by the most agonising 
spasms, he dragged out the eight most ghastly years 
of his life. At first the death-chamber was one of 
the favourite rendezvous of fashionable Paris, but 
as the novelty wore off, his circle of friends grew 
narrower and narrower, until eventually a visit from 
Berlioz seemed only the crowning proof of the 
musician's inveterate eccentricity. 

Heine, however, rose manfully to the occasion, 
and did all that he could under the circumstances. 
Always a passionate lover of the paradoxical, he now 
began to appreciate with an intense and unprece- 
dented relish the infinite humour of the great Life- 
farce, one of the most effective scenes of which was 
even now being enacted in the person of the poet of 
j'oie de vivre, who, enduring all the agonies of the 
damned, lay dying in La Rue d'Amsterdam to the 
quick music of the piano on the story underneath, 
while only a few feet away shone all the glow and 
glitter of Parisian life. 

The chief occupation and solace of the dying man 
was the writing of his Memoirs, the great Apologia 


pro vita sua which was to square his accounts with 
the world, and win for him the future as his own. 

Yet at times the greatness of his sufferings would 
soften his heart. He would find in the Bible the 
magic book which had power to dispel his earthly 
torments ; the u Heimweh for heaven " would fall upon 
him, and again would he know his God. It would 
seem, however, that Heine's death-bed re-conversion 
is simply to be regarded as one of the numerous 
instances of the Prince of Darkness exhibiting mon- 
astic proclivities under the stress of severe physical 
malaise. For eight years Heine lay a-dying, and 
with the skeleton of Death assiduously serving the 
few bitter crumbs that yet remained of his feast of 
life, he was, as a simple matter of pathology, almost 
bound to believe once more, even if he had been 
the most hardened infidel in existence. Heine, how- 
ever, was no cynical atheist. The current religions, 
it is true, he considered pretty poetry, but bad logic, 
yet none the less he was genuinely imbued with the 
ethical idea. 

" I am too proud," he writes, " to be influenced 
by greed for the heavenly wages of virtue or by fear 
of hellish torments. I strive after the good because 
it is beautiful and attracts me irresistibly, and I 
abominate the bad because it is hateful and repug- 
nant to me." 

What, in fact, served Heine in the stead of a 
theology was his fervid enthusiasm for Progress and 
Humanity. His real religion was the religion of 
Freedom, the religion of the poor people, the new 
creed of which Jean Rousseau was the John the 
Baptist and Voltaire the chief apostle ; Heine's 
Madonna was the red goddess of Revolution, who 
exacted from her worshippers innumerable hecatombs 
of human victims ; the Man-god whom he revered 


as the Saviour of Society was Napoleon, the Son of 
the Revolution, the drastic reorganiser of the world, 
who, Unappreciated by the pharisees and reac- 
tionaries of his time, and finding his Golgotha on 
the " martyr-cliffs of St. Helena," endured for more 
than five years all the agonies of a moral crucifixion ; 
while to complete our version of the Heinesque 
theology, his Heilige Geist was the Holy Spirit of the 
Human Intellect which he says " is seen in its great- 
est glory in Light and Laughter," and the Revelation 
which inspired him most deeply was, to use once 
more his own phrase, " the sacred mystic Revelation 
that we name poesy." 

It is interesting to trace the influence of these last 
ghastly years on Heine's writings. His almost com- 
plete physical prostration brought with it its own 
compensation in the shape of a marvellous psychic 
exaltation, and the Romanzero and the Poetische Nach- 
lese contain some of his greatest and most moving 
poems. Nowhere do we see more clearly his most 
characteristic excellences, his delicacy, his power of 
antithesis, his concision. 

It is Heine's compression, in fact, which is one 
of the most pronounced features of his poetic style. 
The whole quintessence of joy and pain, of love and 
sorrow, is frequently distilled into one short poem. 
This Heinesque condensation is a variant of the 
same theory that can be traced in the old Impres- 
sionist school of painters which is concerned with 
the outline and the proper light and shading of the 
outline to the exclusion of minor details, and in the 
journalistic cult of the " story " in which the ideal 
aimed at is " the point, the whole point, and nothing 
but the point." Heine, in fact, is unique among the 
poets for narrating a tale with the minimum of space 
and the maximum of effect, for narrating it in such 


a way that each line serves to heighten the level of 
intensity, till at length the edifice is crowned by the 
climax. This feature of his style is well illustrated 
by the end of the frequently quoted poem, "The 
Asra," in the Romanzero: 

" And the slave spake, I am called 
Mohammed, I am from Yemen, 
And my stock is from those Asras, 
They who die whenever they love." 

Though, moreover, he protested to the last against 
his fate, his tone in the Romanzero and the earlier 
Poetische Nachlese is more mellow than in his earlier 
writings. His cry from the heart is not the cry of defi- 
ance but rather of the pathetic wistfulness of impotence. 
Yet before the candle of his life became extinguished it 
leapt up in one final flicker, the most marvellous of all. 
A characteristic caprice of fate made him acquainted 
during the last months of his life with his one true 
soul-affinity, the charming woman who is known 
under the pseudonym of Camille Selden or La 

Is it then to be wondered at that when the rich 
feast of a perfect love, for which he had craved 
Tantalus-like all his life, was offered to him almost 
at the very minute that his lips were being sealed by 
the cold kiss of death, the whole soul of the man 
should leap up in indignant protest, and that such 
poems as u Lass die heiligen Parabolen," and the 
even more wonderful series of stanzas with the refrain, 
" O schone Welt du bist abscheulich," should exhibit 
the cold insolent shrug of the man convinced of the 
righteousness of his plea that of all the places in the 
universe this human earth " where the just man drags 
himself along beneath the blood-stained burden of 
his cross, while the wicked man rides in triumph on 
his high steed," is the most iniquitous ? 


Heine died at four o'clock in the morning of 
February 17, 1856. He was buried by his own 
directions in Montmartre, " in order to avoid being 
disturbed by the crowd and bustle of Pere Lachaise." 

His writings form an incessant stream of paradoxes, 
but his life is the greatest paradox of all. The 
prophet of the new religion of liberty, he was repudiated 
by his country, and his happiest days were spent in 
the land of exile ; throughout his life he sought for 
love, to live years of the most healthy prosaic 
domesticity with his mistress, and to find his one 
true romance on his death-bed ; he imagined that 
he was a great political force, but it is rather as a 
poet that he survives ; as a poet his chief theme was 
the Joy and Light of Life, and he drew his truest in- 
spiration from the darkest depths of his agony ; even 
as a great writer he has been chiefly known by the 
comparatively inferior Book of Songs and Reisebilder, 
while his masterpiece, the Memoirs, the great highly 
barbed Parthian arrow shot from the grave to transfix 
his enemies for all eternity, lay mouldering for many 
years amid the dusty archives of the Vienna Library. 
His message, too, the core and kernel of his 
philosophy, is again a paradox. To the sphinx-like 
riddle with which every thinker is confronted, " Is 
Life poetry or prose, tragedy or farce ? " Heine 
made answer that the pathos and poetry of life were 
contained in the fact that life was so essentially grim 
and unpoetical, and that the real tragedy of the 
world lay in the ghastly farce of it all. 



The recent centenary of the birth of Benjamin 
Disraeli renewed our interest in the most striking 
figure in the English history of the last century. 
Throughout his life Disraeli made it an important 
part of his metier to be interesting, and it is certainly 
a convincing proof both of his great natural fascina- 
tion and of the adroitness with which he worked his 
pose, that even beyond the grave his character should 
still exercise our curiosity and blind us with the 
various facets of its brilliancy. He fairly bristles 
with paradoxes, this cynic, who was also a senti- 
mentalist, this Oriental mystic, who was one of the 
most finished dandies in London, this shameless 
adventurer, with his pathetic and chivalrous devotion 
to his sovereign, this political Don Juan, who pro- 
vided a classic example of conjugal affection. Many 
have essayed to solve the riddle of the u Primrose 
Sphinx " ; but the best testimony to their almost uni- 
versal failure is that nearly every biographer has pro- 
duced a completely different version of his character. 
Mr. Hitchman, " one of the helpless, somnambulised 
cattle whom he led by the nose," to use Carlyle's 
phrase, portrays him (in The Public Life of the late Lord 
Beaconsfield) with charming nai'vete'as the "disinterested 
and patriotic statesman." Mr. T. P. O'Connor, on 
the other hand, who, when still sowing his literary 
wild oats, painted Disraeli even blacker than the 
Prince of Darkness himself, in a book unworthy of 
any serious biographer, simply overshoots the mark. 



Froude, in his Life, comes nearer to the truth, but 
is hampered by being forced to compress the history 
of a crowded life and the psychology of a complex 
character into a narrow and inadequate compass. 
Both Froude, however, and Mr. Sichel, who has 
given us an interesting volume on Disraeli's person- 
ality, lay too much stress on his imaginative and 
idealistic features. 

The reason for this inability to comprehend a 
character, in many respects singularly typical of his 
age, lies not so much in the alleged inadequacy of 
the materials as in the incapacity of most English 
writers for handling general ideas. The English 
mind is too concrete for social psychology ; it 
delights in the almost mechanical work of classifying 
animals, but fails to produce any classification of 
characters worth the name. The Disraeli problem 
is admittedly difficult ; the secrecy which until 
recently kept us from all knowledge of the greater 
portion of his papers and correspondence is un- 
doubtedly a handicap, but the difficulty is by no 
means insuperable, nor the material so scanty as is 
usually supposed. Let us take Disraeli in relation 
to his age, his environment, his ancestry, then what 
would otherwise have struck us as strange, not to 
say impossible, stands out clear and inevitable. 
Another valuable source of information is to be 
found in his novels, though it is always difficult to 
discriminate between what is and what is not auto- 
biographical in these works. 

A vigorous and imaginative mind, when writing 
about its own history, will naturally not stint itself in 
its licences ; it will abandon itself to all kinds of 
hypotheses ; it will take a certain phase of itself, 
frame circumstances to suit its development, and 
proceed on the fictitious assumption ; it will indulge 


freely both in caricature and idealisation. In 
Vivian Grey, for instance, Disraeli has slightly 
exaggerated the more cynical side of his nature ; 
Sidonia, on the other hand, is an idealised version of 
Disraeli ; it is Disraeli raised to a higher power ; 
it is what he would have liked to have been, but was 
not, any more than the actual Byron was as brave, 
as romantic, and as fascinating as the ideal Byron 
who is portrayed in Conrad, Childe Harold, and Don 

Yet, none the less, Sidonia, Fakredeen, Vivian Grey, 
and Conlarini Fleming possess a strong family 
likeness, and strike a genuine autobiographical 
note. With regard to the two latter, Mr. Sichel, in 
his study of Disraeli, is unwarranted in his attempted 
depreciation of their evidence, on the theory that 
they represent merely a distorted and transient phase 
of Disraeli's development, to be ascribed to ill-health 
and immaturity. On the contrary, the contortions 
of great men in adolescence are peculiarly instruc- 
tive. It is then that the very elements of the future 
man are fermenting in the crucible ; and is not 
growth more significant than maturity ? It is not 
a paradox, but a fundamental truth, to say that a 
man is never more himself than when he is not him- 
self ; it is in periods of violent upheaval that the 
conventional superstructure is destroyed and the 
innermost foundations of character are laid bare. It 
is far easier to tone down than to touch up, and the 
unrestrained sincerity of these early novels, written 
under the impetus of intense emotion, throws far 
more light on Disraeli's real character than a book like 
Endymion, the official pronouncement of his maturer 
years. A prudent use, then, of the novels, and an 
examination of his relations to his age, environment, 
and ancestry should enable us to construct a psychol- 


ogy of Disraeli that should be at once convincing 
and consistent, and adequate to shed light on many 
of the obscure points of his character. 

The Sturm und Drang age of the Revolution in 
which Disraeli was born marked the passing of 
Europe from childhood to manhood, from mediaeval- 
ism to modernity. Like all transition periods, it 
was peculiarly complex ; the tendencies being so 
varied, and were so frequently accompanied by the 
reactions against themselves, that it requires con- 
siderable care to disentangle the principal threads. 

It was an age of progress where reaction was 
frequently to be seen at work ; it was an age signifi- 
cant for a violent outburst of scientific materialism, 
and the consequently inevitable mysticism of a re- 
ligious revival. It was an age at once scientific and 
romantic, individual and cosmopolitan. It was an 
age where circumstances produced strange mixtures, 
so that in England we are brought face to face with 
the paradox that Gladstone, the founder of demo- 
cratic idealism, obtained his seat under the old 
system of close boroughs, while Disraeli, the most 
brilliant example of the new democratic theory of la 
carriere ouverte aux talentes, found his way to power as 
the head of the aristocratic and conservative party. 
The predominant note, however, was one of demo- 
cratic individualism. With the French Revolution 
the yoke of responsibility, political and religious, was 
violently thrown off ; new and wide fields had been 
opened out to commerce by the extended communi- 
cations and the new mechanical inventions. A 
quickened life broke in upon the lethargy of the 
previous century. The struggle for existence entered 
on a sharper and intenser phase. Ambitious men 
vehemently dashed themselves against the social 
barrier, which day by day became more easy to 


climb. In every department it was the age of the 
clever and ambitious parvenu. In war and in 
politics Napoleon, in poetry Burns, in fiction Balzac, 
give convincing testimony to the power of the new 
regime. It was the age of the French Revolution 
and of the Holy Alliance, of Condillac and of 
Chateaubriand, of Laplace and of Shelley, of 
Godwin and of Tom Paine. 

But equality is a medal with two faces : on the 
one side is written, " I am as good as, if not better 
than, everyone else " ; on the other, " Everyone else 
is as good as, if not better than, myself." The first 
was the motto of the rampant individualism and 
vigorous national policy of Disraeli, the latter of the 
hesitating Christian spirit and sentimental cosmo- 
politanism of Gladstone. Gladstone, indeed, is such 
an excellent foil to Disraeli that we may well be 
permitted the following quotations, where the rift in 
Gladstone's lute, between the churchman and the 
politician, stands in pointed contrast to the unity of 
purpose that from his earliest years actuated his 
rival. Gladstone, torn between his missionary im- 
pulse and yearning for apostolic destination on the 
one hand, and healthy ambition on the other, writes 
to his father : u I am willing to persuade myself 
that in spite of other longings, which I often feel, 
my heart is prepared to yield other hopes and other 
desires for this : of being permitted to be the humblest 
of those who may be commissioned to set before the 
eyes of man the magnanimity and glory of Christian 
truth. Politics are fascinating to me, perhaps too 
fascinating. My temper is so excitable that I should 
fear giving up my mind to other subjects, which have 
ever proved sufficiently alluring to me, and which I 
fear would make my life a series of unsatisfied long- 
ings and expectations." Disraeli is less undecided, 


as is clear from the following quotation from Contarini 
Fleming : u I should have killed myself if I had not 
been supported by my ambition, which now each day 
became more quickening, so that the desire of dis- 
tinction and of astounding action raged in my soul, 
and when I realised that so many years must elapse 
before I could realise my ideal, I gnashed my teeth in 
silent rage and cursed my existence." Disraeli will 
give up anything rather than his chance of being a 
great man. At a time when most clever young men 
of his age were thinking of a scholarship he had finally 
decided to go in for a premiership. He has planned 
his campaign, he will fool the world to the top of its 
bent. When yet a boy Disraeli says, as Vivian 
Grey : u We must mix with the herd, we must 
sympathise with the sorrow that we do not feel and 
share the merriment of fools. To rule men we must 
be men, to prove that we are strong we must be 
weak. Our wisdom must be concealed under folly, 
our constancy under caprice." 

None the less, Disraeli had too vivid an imagina- 
tion, too keen a sense of the picturesque, not to be 
affected to a certain extent by the current Romanti- 
cism. We see this in the Eastern novels of Tancred 
and Alroy, also in Contarini Fleming, the English 
Wilhelm Meister, which exhibits the weaker and 
more morbid side of the author's character, and is 
a useful supplement to Vivian Grey. But it is the 
latter, however, who represents most accurately the 
ideals and aspirations of the young Disraeli, and, 
taken generally, is a broad adumbration of his sub- 
sequent career. But the Disraeli of Vivian Grey 
was not so unique as is usually considered, and an 
analogy between him and the celebrated Frenchman, 
who wrote a novel about the same period, and 
one, moreover, singularly typical of his age, proves 


instructive. Benjamin Disraeli and Henri Beyle were 
in all superficial details so absolutely different that 
one might well hesitate before making the compari- 
son, yet they were radically similar in many of their 
larger outlines, and in particular their characters, as 
revealed in the heroes of two novels, Vivian Grey and 
Le Rouge et le Noir, show an extraordinary resemblance. 
Both Julien Sorel and Vivian Grey are impelled by 
a violent and overwhelming ambition ; both, origin- 
ally excluded by their status from participation in 
the great prizes of the world, set out undaunted to 
conquer, the one as a priest, the other as a politician. 
Cynical, with that extreme and savage species of 
cynicism which is the reaction from intense sensitive- 
ness, they both wage war on society in their passion 
for success, while the nobler and more generous in- 
stincts with which nature had endowed them perish 
in the struggle. 

But this Time-Spirit of individualism was no mere 
cold-blooded philosophy of egoism. It was, after all, 
an age of genuine poetry, of fresh ideals. The halo 
of romance played around the most abandoned 
sinners. Individualism found, in addition, an aesthetic 
sanction, as was seen in the prodigious vogue 
of Byron, where the picturesque pose of the one 
man pitted against society appealed strongly to 
the popular imagination. How deeply Disraeli was 
imbued with Byronism is evidenced not only by the 
whole tone and manner of his early life, but by his 
resuscitation of the Byronic legend in Venetia. 

This spirit of combined idealism and intense 
practical energy is met with again in Disraeli's race 
and ancestry. The Jewish race is a compound of 
materialism and idealism. The Jew is the dreamer 
in action, combining fluid imagination with ada- 
mantine purpose. These two phases of the Jewish 


character are seen excellently in Disraeli's father 
and paternal grandfather. The latter, an Italian 
Jew, came over to England about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, and quickly made a fortune by 
dint of his shrewd business talent and fixity. His 
son Isaac was gifted with an unfortunate superfluity 
of the poetic temperament. His youth was erratic 
and unhappy, but when close on thirty he found a 
secure refuge in the quiet waters of literature. To 
his Semitic blood is also to be traced Disraeli's pro- 
digious tenacity of purpose. He came of a stiff- 
necked people, so that opposition stimulated him, 
and his early failures served but to render sweeter 
his eventual success. He had, too, the calculating 
foresight of the Jew, and could pierce the future, if 
not with prophetic vision, at any rate, with marvel- 
lous intuition. His Oriental strain of mysticism 
served him in good stead. He never forgot that he 
was a scion of the Chosen People, and came of a 
race which had never sullied its purity of lineage by 
changing its blood. Was he not the chosen man of 
the chosen race ? Could he not read his future, if 
not in the stars, " which are the brain of heaven," 
yet in his own brilliant and meteoric brain ? He 
had a full measure of the pride of race, and plumed 
himself to the last on what he may well have called 
" the Oriental ichor in his veins." If his enemies 
dubbed him a parvenu he would fling the wretched 
taunt back in their faces, bidding them realise that 
they came from a parvenu and hybrid race, while 
he himself was sprung from the purest blood in 
Europe. How keen was this genealogical Judaism 
we can see from the classic letter to O'Connell, 
where he wrote that " the hereditary bondsman had 
forgotten the clank of his fetters," and from his 
masterpiece of character-drawing, Sidonia, who, with 


wealth, intellect, and power at his command, yet 
found his chief " source of interest in his descent 
and in the fortunes of his race." Disraeli's Judaism, 
however, did not extend to the religious tenets of the 
creed. Few, no doubt, are the instances of a con- 
verted Jew proving a genuine Christian, but Disraeli 
had too much of the mystic in him to be an atheist, 
and if we take into account the elasticity of his imagi- 
nation, there is little reason to doubt that he was at 
any rate reasonably sincere in his belief that Chris- 
tianity was merely completed Judaism, Calvary but the 
logical corollary of Sinai ; he would also, no doubt, 
find a malicious joy in reminding those who taunted 
him with his origin, that u one half of Christendom 
worships a Jew and the other half a Jewess." Any- 
way, the Christian religion played nothing approach- 
ing an integral part in his life ; while an amiable 
acquiescence in its dogmas was, at the best, as it 
has been with so many, but an intellectual habit. 
His Jewish origin helped him, moreover, in that he 
approached the problems of politics with a mind free 
from conventional British prejudices. He was never 
a thorough Englishman, and was proud of the fact, 
instead of thanking God " that he was born an English- 
man," as do many of his race, who betray in their 
every word and action their Jewish nationality. His 
admirable expert knowledge of the English character 
was throughout professional, not sympathetic. 

When we turn to Disraeli's early environment, we 
find that it was one calculated to foster both ambi- 
tion and a literary imagination. He breathed from 
his earliest days the atmosphere of books, and almost 
from the cradle imbibed avidly the many volumes of 
Voltaire. Nothing is so stimulating to the youthful 
mind as the unchecked run of a library, with its 
delightful excursions into the unexplored country of 


literature. His natural sensitiveness was hardened 
by his experiences at school, where his nationality 
and cleverness rendered him unpopular. The reac- 
tion intensified his already precocious ambition, and 
gave him that consciousness of semi-isolation which 
formed one of the chief parts of his strength. His 
ambition was further heightened by the smart literary 
set which he met constantly at his father's house, and 
his early glimpses of the great world. Disraeli is 
palpably exaggerating when he says, apropos of Vivian 
Grey, that u he was a tender plant in a moral hot- 
house," but the following passage is significant : 

* He became habituated to the idea that everything could be 
achieved by dexterity, that there was no test of conduct except 
success ; to be ready to advance any opinion, to possess none ; to 
look upon every man as a tool, and never to do anything which had 

not a definite though circuitous purpose." 


It is this trait of doing things with an object which 
supplied the true clue to Disraeli as a man of letters. 
We admit, of course, the verve and brilliancy of the 
novels, their claim to rank as classic, but it is impos- 
sible to arrive at a correct appreciation of them unless 
they be taken in the closest conjunction with their 
author's political career. Vivian Grey, for instance, 
no doubt afforded an excellent outlet for the ferment- 
ing passion of Disraeli's youth ; it was itself one of 
the best society novels ever written, but it was some- 
thing more. Before that time the future Premier had 
been hiding his light. How could he obtain a free 
field for the exercise of his gifts ? His father's 
Bohemian clique scarcely answered his purpose. 
How could he burst open the doors of society ? The 
bombshell was supplied by Vivian Grey. It was a case 
of self-advertisement raised to the level of a fine art, 
and Disraeli introduced himself to the public with a 
bow of most elaborate flourishes. Contarini Fleming 


strikes a slightly different note, exhibiting the more 
poetic side of its author's character ; but we must 
not forget that at the time when it was published 
Disraeli's long absence in the East had temporarily 
obscured his fame in London, and that it was the 
success of Contarini Fleming which secured for him once 
more the entree into society. Similarly, Coningsby, 
Sybil, and Tancred were, in the main, but the gospels 
in which, in the role of a political saviour, he propa- 
gated the new creed of Young England. Lothair and 
Endymion were partly written to replenish his empty 
exchequer. The protagonists, moreover, in all his 
chief novels were fashioned in the image of himself, 
and even Lord Cadurcis in Venetia, who is theoreti- 
cally Byron, is portrayed with the physical features 
of the author, so as to ensure a vivid impression on 
the public mind of his own personality. Not that 
Disraeli did not experience a genuine joy in the 
wielding of the pen. He could soar high in his 
flights of mysticism and romance ; could .describe the 
picturesque and the beautiful in passages of inspired 
rhetoric, though it was in the dash and brilliancy of 
his satire which at its best equalled that of Heine, or 
Voltaire, or Byron, that he was most himself. His 
style is redolent of his race. It possesses the genuine 
Oriental glamour, the Oriental love of gorgeous and 
grandiose magnificence, the Oriental lack of symmetry 
and proportion. His prodigious genius for sarcasm 
was also Semitic, if we are to believe Mr. Bryce, who 
considers that gift a peculiar property of the race, 
instancing, as examples, Lucian and Heine, the greatest 
satirists of ancient and modern times. 

This same combination of temperament and policy 
which explains Disraeli, the man of letters, explains 
Disraeli, the dandy. Living as he did in an age 
which revolted, under the leadership of Count D'Orsay, 


against the chaste and classic traditions of Brummel, 
and which offered in the elaborate picturesqueness 
of its dress an excellent medium for the expression 
of personality, is it to be wondered at that so ambi- 
tious a nature as Disraeli's should, apart from other 
reasons, enter gaily into the sartorial arena ? These 
early years remind us of Alcibiades, who, in his 
youth, his genius, his precocious political ambitions, 
his aristocratic lineage and superb insolence, his ex- 
travagance and irresponsibility, offers a fairly close 
analogy. Disraeli, however, was an Alcibiades with 
ballast, and his most erratic phases were governed by 
a consistent purpose. He had, it is true, the regular 
Hebrew love for the picturesque, the racial craving 
for flamboyant display ; but the unique characteristic 
of the man was the ingenious method by which he 
exploited even his weaknesses to advance his purpose. 
Realising that nothing was more fatal to his career 
than the indifference of the public, that to be hated 
was better than to be ignored, and that notoriety was 
a passable substitute for fame, he was determined to 
bulk largely in the public eye. Living, fortunately, 
in an age when dandyism, if not an art, was at any 
rate a career, and when " wild, melancholy men" were 
still the rage among the ladies, he manipulated the 
dandy and Byronic pose with phenomenal success. 
But his social career was not all pose. Though 
political ambition was to him always the main point 
of existence, he was far too healthy to lose sight of the 
small change of life. He had, moreover, a genuine 
love of society. His remark apropos of Gladstone, 
" What can we do with a leader who is not even in 
society ? " was sincere in spite of being an epigram, 
and the hosts of great ladies who crowd his novels 
attest conclusively to his social fastidiousness. But 
the most convincing proof of this lighter side of his 


nature is to be found in his correspondence with his 
sister. Those letters, dashed off hurriedly to his 
u dearest Sa," written with that complete lack of 
ceremony which is the sign of a perfect intimacy, 
show with what zest he frequented balls and water- 
parties, dinners and soirees. Yet his ambition is never 
far in the background. He goes to the House of 
Commons, hears the big man speak, and then writes 
to his sister, " But between ourselves I could floor 
them all." His genius for conversation is historic, 
and we are not surprised that he considered that the 
one unforgivable sin was to be a bore. He had not, 
it is true, Gladstone's habit of unburdening himself 
freely to the most casual of acquaintances. How 
many, indeed, were there of his intimates who had 
penetrated into the secret places of his heart ? But 
over-much sincerity is a hindrance to the art of 
conversation ; and many of his most brilliant para- 
doxes were thrown off as an evasive retort to an 
impertinent question. When, however, we come to 
Disraeli's social and private life, the most interesting 
question that presents itself is that of his relation to 
his wife. Even though he had discoursed in Contarini 
Fleming of the grand passion with all the high-flown 
sentimentalism of the age, it was obviously impossible 
for him, considering the disparity of their ages, to be 
seriously in love with Mrs. Disraeli ; and it must 
have seemed that he had been forced to exchange 
the poetry of the mistress for the prose of the wife. 
Had he not, about ten years before his marriage, 
written to his sister, " How would you like Lady 

B for a sister-in-law? Clever, .25,000, and 

domestic. As for love, all my friends who have 
married for love either beat their wives or live apart 
from them. This is literally true. I may commit 
many follies, but never that of marrying for love, 


which, I am convinced, cannot but be a guarantee of 
infelicity." Yet this union, based originally on mere 
policy and camaraderie, was eventually crowned with 
the most faithful of loves. It was his wife's absorbing 
interest in his career that supplied the link. He has 
himself written that the most exquisite moment in a 
man's life was when he surprised his lady-love reading 
the manuscript of his first speech, and the sympathy 
of Mrs. Disraeli in his successes may well have given 
them a yet further charm. The situation is well 
expressed in the remark of Mrs . Disraeli's : " You 
know you married me for money, and I know that if 
you had to do it again you would do it for love." 

In fact the warm and constant affection Disraeli 
lavished on his wife during her lifetime, and the 
poignant grief that he evinced at her death, furnish 
a more than sufficient refutation to those who persist 
in regarding him as a mere cynical fortune-hunter. 
Disraeli, like Browning, had 

11 Two soul sides, one to face the world with, 
One to show a woman when he loves her." 

In the other departments of private life he was 
likewise exemplary. His hardness was limited to 
politics ; he was the most dutiful of sons, the most 
affectionate of brothers, the most faithful of friends. 
His debts, for the most part, were incurred by 
backing the bills of other men. His touching and 
romantic friendship for Mrs. Brydges Williams, the 
eccentric old Cornish lady who gave him pecuniary 
assistance at a critical period of his career, is well 
known. The story, again, of the Premier and his 
wife dancing a Highland jig in their night apparel 
on hearing of the success of an old friend, shows how 
little the bitter struggles of politics had hardened his 
heart. Particularly touching, also, is the mutual 


affection between him and the Queen, that sweetened 
his last years. She was, as we read in a letter of 
Disraeli's to the Marchioness of Ely, " the best friend 
he had in the world." 

But Disraeli, though he fulfilled himself in many 
ways, was first of all a politician, and it is Disraeli 
the politician rather than Disraeli the man of letters, 
the dandy, or the human being, that principally pro- 
vokes our interest. What were his real views on 
politics ? How far can we distinguish between the 
official edition of himself which he displayed for 
public inspection and the original that he alone could 
read ? Given his policy, how far was it justifiable, 
how far rational ? The view of his most devoted, 
but yet in reality, quite unappreciative, admirers, 
that throughout a political career of over half a 
century he remained consistently and absolutely 
faithful to his original ideals, and that he introduced 
into politics an integrity and disinterestedness that 
Parliament had rarely witnessed, is even more absurd 
than the opinion of his blind and malignant enemies 
that he was a mere charlatan who juggled with parties 
and the people without possessing a single genuine 
political faith of his own. Disraeli, as was inevitable 
in a man of so detached and unprejudiced a nature, 
simply took the then party system at its true worth, 
and, of course, realised from the outset that before 
he could do anything worth doing he must first obtain 
that power which alone could give him the oppor- 
tunity of doing it. His attack on Peel was, prima 
facie, an occasion that it would have been the depth 
of folly to have missed, and Mr. Birrell's statement 
that Disraeli ( * ate his peck of dirt," and his com- 
parison of him to Casanova, is mere petulance. For 
these preliminary stages of the higher politics Disraeli 
was admirably fitted, and the following autobiographic 


passages from Tancred show how congenial were his 
Herculean labours: "To be the centre of a maze 
of manoeuvres was his empyrean, and while he recog- 
nised in them the best means of success he found in 
their exercise a means of constant delight " ; and 
again, " ' Intrigue,' cried the young prince, using, as 
was his custom, a superfluity of expression both of 
voice and hand and eyes, ' intrigue, it is life, it is the 
only thing. If you wish to produce a result you 
must make a combination, and you call combination 
intrigue.' " Disraeli viewed party politics from the 
dispassionate standpoint of a chess-player, " playing 
off the proud peers like pawns," skilfully manoeuvring 
his knights and bishops beneath the shadow of the 
old mediaeval castles, though it was " in his masterly 
manipulation of his queen " that he really surpassed 
himself. What a contrast to Gladstone's youthful 
frame of mind, who entered politics because he felt 
a strong moral duty to defend that Church which he 
was afterwards partly to disestablish against the 
insidious attacks of philosophic Radicalism. But 
Disraeli's point of view was, after all, merely that 
which was obvious and rational. It is well known 
that in Disraeli's day the whole efficiency of the party 
system as a means of carrying on the government 
was based on that sagacious inconsistency, so char- 
acteristic of this country, which, cheerfully accom- 
modating the most untractable of facts to the most 
docile of theories, drew between the two parties no 
clear dividing line either of principle or of class. 
Those genuine lines of cleavage both of policy and 
interest that now tend to become more and more 
clearly marked did not then exist. The only vital 
political distinction then existing in England was that 
between the Ins and the Outs. Whigs and Tories 
were, in their origin, merely the names for the two 


rival organisations for the pursuit of political power 
into which the oligarchy of the time had divided 
itself, and the party catch-words then indicated as 
much essential difference as the badges by which the 
two sides of a " scratch " game symbolise a fictitious 

Particularly interesting is the following quotation 
from a letter of Gladstone, written comparatively 
early in his career, which shows convincingly that 
the subsequent democratic idealist fully realised the 
intrinsic farce of the then party system : " Each of 
them, the Whig and the Tory Party, comprises within 
itself far greater divergencies than can be noticed 
as dividing the more moderate portion of the one 
from the more moderate portion of the other. The 
great English parties differ no more in their general 
outlines than by a somewhat different distribution 
of the same elements in each." It is impossible for 
the opportunist position to be more cogently stated. 
It is, indeed, a strange paradox that political integrity 
should be traditionally associated with the name 
of Gladstone, who accomplished more than any 
other of our statesmen in changing statesmanship 
into demagogy. His pronouncedly religious tempera- 
ment, however, led to extraordinary results, and 
his psychological condition was best expressed in 
the well-known epigram that "he followed his 
conscience in the same manner that the driver of 
a gig follows the horse." It was not that he was 
deliberately insincere. He could deceive himself 
as well as others with his ingenious sophisms. His 
sincerity was merely so elastic, his enthusiasm so 
adaptable, that he found it easy to be sincere and 
enthusiastic, inter alia, about those things which 
coincided with his interests. 

Carlyle hits the mark in dubbing Gladstone a 


deeper and unconscious juggler as contrasted with 
Disraeli, the clever, conscious juggler. The latter, 
at any rate, played the game straight with himself. 
He did not, like his rival, have recourse to super- 
natural inspiration for every argument that dropped 
from his specious lips, or degrade his deity into a 
veritable deus ex machtnd, whose function it was 
to sanction the most elementary dictates of Parlia- 
mentary tactics. 

Yet, though he exhibited a prudent elasticity in 
his handling of the minor details of party politics, 
in the main outlines of his policy he remained con- 
sistent and true to himself throughout his career. 
The romantic strain in his temperament rendered 
him congenitally opposed to the cut and dried 
utilitarianism of the Whigs. The renovated Toryism 
of New England, for which he was largely responsible, 
though to a great extent merely a move in the game, 
is deeply stamped with the impress of his own nature. 
That his bias was naturally aristocratic no one can 
doubt who has read the passage in The Revolutionary 
Epicke on Equality, or has appreciated the tone of 
personal superiority and contempt for the mediocre 
that pervades all his writings. His Conservatism, 
however, was not the orthodox Conservatism of 
the Eldon school, u the barren mule of politics which 
engenders nothing," to use his own phrase, but 
a more picturesque and practical policy. He poured 
successfully the new wine of Democracy into the 
old bottles of Toryism, and thus, while no doubt 
indulging the more romantic side of his nature, 
placed his party on a more modern and workable 
basis. Disraeli's policy, in fact, was always one 
of sane and rational opportunism. In the same way 
that Gambetta, the exponent of French Opportunism, 
opposed "a policy of results to the policy of 


chimeras " of the reactionaries, Disraeli opposed to 
Gladstone's dangerous and visionary ideals a policy 
that was at once feasible and salutary. Disraeli 
invariably treated England as a definite country with 
a definite personality of its own, requiring individual 
attention and delicate handling, while Gladstone 
regarded her as a mere tabula rasa on which the 
latest new-fangled doctrines could be easily imprinted. 
Precisely the same spirit induced Gladstone to treat 
the Queen as a department of State and Disraeli 
to treat her as a woman. In home politics he has 
grasped well that transition from feudal to federal 
principles which was the keynote of the last century 
politics. His detractors object that no great measures 
stand identified with his name ; but here the fates 
were against him. It was a cruel paradox that 
when at last he obtained an untrammelled power 
he was too old and jaded to initiate any new creative 
measure in domestic affairs. I quote Mrs. Disraeli : 
" You don't know my Dizzy ; what great plans 
he has long matured for the good and greatness of 
England. But they have made him wait and drudge 
so long, and now time is against him." In his foreign 
policy, however, he displayed his characteristic com- 
bination of practical and imaginative strength. In 
the same spirit in which he himself had obtained the 
foremost place in England, he desired that England 
should acquire the foremost rank among the nations ; 
while, as is shown by his Imperial policy, he infused 
something of his own picturesqueness into the policy 
of the most prosaic Power in Europe. His Indian 
policy, in particular, proves with what practical im- 
agination he had divined how much lay in a name, 
and that to the feudatory princes it meant all the 
difference whether they paid their allegiance to the 
Queen of England or to the Empress of India. 


Disraeli's master-passion was ambition. But he 
was no monomaniac like Napoleon. In the same 
way that Sidonia, the complete and perfect man, 
according to Disraeli, played with a master-hand 
on the whole gamut of life, so did Disraeli, though 
in a lesser scale, live largely and fully. He lived 
in the solitudes of the Arabian deserts and in the 
crowded drawing-rooms of St. James's ; in the halls 
of Westminster and the shady quietude of Braden- 
ham ; in the privacy of his own study, and in the 
historic chambers of Downing Street. To few men 
has it been given to express themselves in so many 
different ways. What matter if his feats of states- 
manship were restricted by the limitations of the 
Parliamentary system and the handicap of his own 
failing health ? To such a nature the joy of life 
lay rather in the winning than in the using of the 
prize. It is the romance and character of the man 
that perpetuate his memory rather than his political 
achievements. He lives as a great career. When 
yet a boy he had mapped out his future, and he 
realised his ambition in every detail. By sheer 
force of intellect and determination he lifted himself 
from the Ghetto to the highest position in England. 
As he himself said, in one of Mrs. Craigie's novels : 
" Many men have talent ; few have genius ; fewer 
still have character." 


The Genealogy of Morals: a Polemic! Nietzsche 
was well advised to append the word " polemic " to 
his title, for it supplies the key to his whole position. 
To some extent, no doubt, the '* Genealogy " may 
be the expression in more philosophic language of 
those ideas, which find in Zarathustra their poetic 
and almost biblical formulation. Yet philosopher 
though he may be, Nietzsche is no abstract thinker 
sitting down stolidly on some icy height to solve 
the riddle of the universe, whatever it may be, by 
the rigid rules of abstract logic, so that he may 
placidly present the solution to such members of 
the public as happen to be interested in metaphysics. 
On the contrary his mind, and even more truly 
his temperament, are made up from the outset. 
Certain ideas grip him so tensely, and for him, at 
any rate, constitute so fiery and omnipresent a 
reality, as to be from his standpoint things transcend- 
ing the mere cavillings of logicians and scientists. 

" You ask me why," says Zarathustra, " but I say 
unto you I am not one of those whom one may 
ask their why." 

The same idea is more technically expressed in 
the preface to the Genealogy " that new immoral, 
or at least, ' amoral ' a priori, and that ' categorical 
imperative,' which was its voice (but, oh ! how 
hostile to the Kantian article, and how pregnant 
with problems), to which since then I have given 



more and more obedience (and, indeed, what is 
more than obedience)." For, startling though it 
may seem to the orthodox, albeit acceptable enough 
to the acolytes of the new faith, the fact stands out 
irresistibly, that all the later writings of Nietzsche 
are saturated through and through with the religious 

For Nietzsche was inspired with as supreme a 
consciousness of the infallibility and paramount 
necessity of his message, as rigid a belief in exclusive 
salvation through his own teachings, as has over- 
whelmed the brain of any prophet or Messiah known 
to human history. u I have given mankind the 
deepest book it possesses," writes Nietzsche to 
Brandes, and means it quite deliberately and quite 
literally. The content, indeed, of the religion of this 
converse Christ may be diametrically opposed to that 
of the original, but the machinery is the same. With 
the same exalted spirit in which Jesus preached the 
kingdom of heaven, so did Nietzsche preach the king- 
dom of this earth, while it may be noted incidentally 
that both kingdoms were the perquisites of a select 
few ; and as the spurned god of Israel taught self- 
abasement to the weak with an intensity that, rightly 
or wrongly, seems a little extravagant to our modern 
taste, so does Nietzsche, and with every whit as 
honest a fanaticism, thunder forth to the strong the 
sublime dogma of self-expression and self-glorifica- 
tion. Turn, in fact, the doctrines of Christianity 
upside down, but leave constant the missionary en- 
thusiasm of its founder, his chronic fits of extreme 
depression and extreme exaltation, and you have the 
quintessence of Nietzsche. 

As, however, it is the boast of all religions that 
they are beyond the realms of exact logic and 
empirical science, it would be as unfair to look in our 


prophet's polemic for the mathematical accuracy of a 
Euclidian proposition, as it would be to search for 
such accuracy amid the many grandiose and tragic 
thoughts that loom over the invectives of Isaiah, 
Jesus, and Jeremiah. 

Not, indeed, but what there are many new, swift, 
and illuminating truths in our philosopher's gospel, 
just as there were in the pronouncements of his afore- 
said Hebrew brethren. But the essence, the raison 
d'etre of the whole book is purely polemical. 
Nietzsche is out to kill, and so long as his weapons 
effectually subserve that object, he is, and quite logi- 
cally, indifferent to aught else. 

Before, however, we analyse in detail the phil- 
osophy of this book, it is advisable to adjust our sights 
to those particular targets on which Nietzsche trained 
his gigantic and murderous artillery. We shall also 
have a better prospect of getting really into touch with 
"the very inner pulse of the machine," the real core 
of this philosophy, if we take a necessarily short, but it 
is to be hoped none the less vivid, glance at those 
reasons which induced Nietzsche to envisage the 
objects of his attack with so tense and implacable a 

Now Nietzsche found his intellectual jumping-off 
ground in that hybrid of Christianity and Buddhism 
stuck on a pedestal of sex, which constituted the 
philosophy of Schopenhauer and the essence of the 
fashionable pessimism of mid-century Germany. To 
endeavour to condense one of the most brilliant and 
elaborate systems of the last century into a few words 
is at best a delicate and hazardous task, yet perhaps 
we may adumbrate tentatively the radical elements 
which spurred Nietzsche to so sanguinary a revolt. 

Life according to Schopenhauer was a sorry 
failure, a thing not worth living on its merits, but 


kept going by the driving impetus of a blind life-force 
and knit with a mutual pity. Life then being intrin- 
sically evil, the remedy for the evil was to live as 
little as possible " Draw your desire back from the 
world so that there may be an end of that phe- 
nomenal life which is nothing but grief." Apart 
from general asceticism, there were two specific 
anodynes prescribed by Schopenhauer for the disease 
called life art which transcended life, and lifted the 
spectator or listener on to another plane, and phil- 
osophy which, as it were, blunted the sting of life by 
the contemplation of the essentially unreal nature of 
the phenomenal universe. But the greatest good 
was Nirvana, a kind of Pantheistic Absolute of nega- 
tivity, into which one eventually merged, to enjoy the 
supreme paradox of a peaceful self-consciousness of 
one's own nothingness. 

It is easy for us to sneer, nowadays, at this bilious 
and suicidal system, and to explain the whole theory 
of the Will to Live by the keen and chronic tyranny 
which the sexual instinct exercised over the phil- 
osopher himself ; the fact remained, Schopenhauer 
was the dominant influence of the day how dominant, 
can be seen from the fact that the whole of later 
Wagnerian music is merely a translation of his phil- 
osophy into the language of sound. It is easy to see 
the extent to which Schopenhauer and Wagner were 
saturated with the whole spirit of primitive and 
mediaeval Christianity. Human life, forsooth, is 
essentially bad and essentially unreal ; salvation only 
lies in the mortification and annihilation of the self. 
Apart, however, from philosophical and theological 
technicalities, the profound psychological import of 
this nihilistic pessimism and neo-Christian romanticism 
is patent. Man looks at man's life on earth, and 
gives "Mr up as a bad job, or at best makes some 


fantastic effort to create a new world to redress the 
balance of the old. "They wanted to run away 
from their misery, and the stars were too far away. 
Then they sighed, Oh, that there were heavenly 
ways, forsooth, to slink into another Being and 

It has, in fact, been well put that, as the motto of 
Goethe was "Memento vivere," so was the motto of 
Schopenhauer, " Memento mori." 

Now, Nietzsche voiced the revolt of those tempera- 
ments whose ears were attuned rather to ** Memento 
vivere " than " Memento mori." We must remember, 
moreover, that that Christian romanticism which 
finds its best metaphysical formulation in Schopen- 
hauer was in itself but a reaction from the real spirit 
of the century, that ebullience and exuberance of the 
human ego of which Stendhal is perhaps the most 
typical manifestation. It might well indeed be in- 
structive to trace the intellectual descent of Nietzsche 
from Stendhal, and, applying again the sociological 
method, to speculate as to how far he derived some 
of the impetus for his philosophy of egoism from the 
aggressive wars of Prussia, as exemplified in the 
Sadowa campaign and the Franco-German war. It 
is time, however, that we came to the temperament 
of the philosopher himself. It is indeed a platitude, 
that as man makes his gods in his own image, so 
does the philosopher create his systems. What is 
Aristotle's ideal of the /3/o? deooprjrucos, and his con- 
ception of the self-contemplative god but the erection 
into a universal norm of the thinker's natural philo- 
sophic idiosyncrasy ? What is the elaborate " I and 
Me " of the cosmology of Fichte but the attribution 
to the universe of the personal idiosyncrasies of 
Fichte, the self-conscious Doppelganger ? And how 
Schopenhauer promoted sex into the devil, whose heat 


animates this earthly hell, we have already seen. What, 
then, was the impetus which impelled Nietzsche to 
batter down the walls of the contemporary moral and 
philosophic universe ? The theory of an innate joie de 
vivre, a system highly if not over-charged with vitality, 
supplies but half the answer. The real explanation 
lies in the stiffening of this natural exuberance be- 
neath the tension of a grim incessant struggle with 
a nervous malady. 

It is not actually necessary to go as far as the 
Swedish writer, M. Bjerre, who finds in Nietzsche's 
deliberate and revolutionary transvaluation of values 
that break up of the cerebral system from its previous 
condition which signalises the earlier stages of general 
paralysis. Yet Nietzsche's own writings, particularly 
his letters, reveal how potent was the stimulus exer- 
cised on his ego by those nervous headaches which 
hounded him over the Continent. To prevent defeat 
his will had to be perpetually strained to the maximum 
pitch of tension. The sweets of comfort being denied 
him, the only alternative left was to find a kind of 
super-happiness in the ecstasies and exultations of 
that Titanic contest which was perpetually fought on 
the battlefield of his own person. Let him speak for 
himself : " I made of my wish to get well, to live, 
my philosophy it should, in fact, be noted the 
years when my vitality descended to its minimum 
were those when I ceased to be a pessimist." 

We have not, however, at this juncture space 
to elaborate further the theory of the superman. Let 
it be enough to say that it is the raising to the th 
power of the spirit of struggling and aggressive effi- 
ciency, and the venting of an over-full vitality by the 
creation of new values out of the wealth of the indi- 
vidual ego. As, however, the glorification of strength 
involves, and logically so, the degradation of weak- 


ness, and u to build up a sanctuary it is necessary for 
a sanctuary to be destroyed," it is not surprising that 
Nietzsche should clear the ground for his new creations 
by a ferocious bombardment of the crumbling ruins 
that still encumbered the site. Schopenhauer, who 
had been the fount from which Nietzsche's philo- 
sophic youth had drawn its inspiration before, as it 
were, he had found him out, is always treated with a 
certain amount of respect. But the arch-enemy was 
the, to him, poisonous system of altruism, self-anni- 
hilation, and world-renouncement which was called 

The cynical may smile at the inordinate and con- 
centrated frenzy of this attack. " Is not your wildly 
militant prophet simply wasting his powder and shot ? 
Who in his senses ever heard of Christianity being 
taken au pied de la lettre, even by the most orthodox 
of modern bishops ? What is it, to use another 
metaphor, but flogging a dead horse ? " To which 
Nietzsche's answer would be that it is by removing 
the foundations that you remove also the super- 
structure, or to translate our metaphor, " Let me kill 
Christianity, and I kill at the same time all that system 
of altruism for altruism's sake, of abstract truth for 
the sake of abstract truth, which is built on that 
hateful foundation." It may also be observed that, 
even apart from the poetic and prophetic licence to 
which a man writing under such circumstances would 
be legitimately entitled, there are even now not 
wanting people who do in point of fact take Chris- 
tianity with all the implicit seriousness of the medi- 
aeval monks or the early Fathers. It is, indeed, a 
phenomenon not without a certain intrinsic humour, 
that almost at the very moment when Tolstoi was 
making his pathetic efforts to resuscitate literal Chris- 
tianity with the abortive tears of pity, Nietzsche should 


swing along to flagellate the semi-inanimate ghost of 
the bleeding God, in no monkish spirit, forsooth, but 
with all the grim and scientific energy of the most 
enthusiastic of executioners, compared to whom Vol- 
taire was but the most urbane of wits, and Heine the 
most innocuous of schoolboys. Having thus taken 
a brief view of the targets, and of the implacable and 
very serious spirit that animates the assailant, let us 
glance briefly at the chief lines of attack. 


The first essay of the Genealogy consists of an 
essay on " Good and Evil, Good and Bad." The line 
of attack is double, being first etymological, and 
secondly historical. 

Without going into philological exactitudes, it is, 
we think, fairly safe to follow Nietzsche in his theory 
that the word u good " and its analogues were origin- 
ally applied to designate those qualities which were 
peculiar to the governing aristocratic classes, albeit 
qualities by no means susceptible of the title of 
u ethical " goodness. Physical valour being in primi- 
tive times the most valuable asset of the community, 
it is not unnatural that that quality should be held in 
universal esteem. We would remark, however, in 
passing, that though Nietzsche professes to make a 
flying expedition into the domain of early Greek 
ethics, which would appear, according to his teach- 
ings, to be represented as an ideal system worthy of 
modern imitation, he is apparently oblivious to. the 
fact that the spirit of cunning prudence, of which he 
so emphatically disapproves, was one of the most 
admired qualities of primitive Greece. 

On the general question, however, we may per- 
haps supplement Nietzsche's by Spencer's argument 


on the meaning of the English word "good," which, 
as is notorious, has the double meaning of u ethical " 
and " efficient." Instructive, however, though this 
argument is, it cannot be said to clinch the question, 
since, even in the times of ancient Greece, there were 
not wanting words such as Kakos, a&rvfiot, oaios to 
denote, albeit mostly in aesthetic terminology, that 
ethical meaning, of which the word ayados fell so 
signally short. In other words, to use Nietzschean 
terminology, the ethical taint even then existed, 
though in a less virulent form. 

The other line of attack, however, is more serious, 
and penetrates to the very core of the modern moral 
system with its savage onslaught on Christianity. 
What is Christianity, says Nietzsche, but the revolt 
of the slaves in the sphere of morals ? Our phil- 
osopher's suggestion, of course, that Christianity was 
a deliberate stratagem on the part of a revengeful 
Israel to square accounts with the conqueror, has, on 
the face of it, no claim to serious consideration as 
anything but a poetic thought. The fact, however, 
that Christianity from its beginning catered avowedly 
for the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the inefficient, 
is admittedly true, whatever disputes may range as to 
the inferences to be drawn from this fact. And that 
the accusation of being a slave-morality is something 
more than empty abuse, is substantiated by the 
numerous slaves who did, in fact, subscribe to the 
infant creed. It is, moreover, not without its interest 
to watch nowadays a recurrence of the same phe- 
nomenon. Just, indeed, as at present the proletariate 
are ipso facto ready to believe, quite apart from any 
question of any economic justification of the doctrine, 
in the genuine iniquity of the rich capitalist, so in the 
early Christian era the proletariate were not reluc- 
tant to put their faith in the saying, that, li it was as 


easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle 
as for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." 
The difference, however, between modern and ancient 
Christianity stands out clearly from the fact that 
though this identical creed is invoked with something 
approaching equal facility on the sides both of the 
angels and the devils, it is, on the whole, now identi- 
fied with the richer and more prosperous classes. 

It must, however, be frankly admitted that Nietzsche 
somewhat overshoots the mark, both in dubbing the 
history of the world a conflict between the two 
ideals, of Rome and Judaea, the egoistic and altruistic 
ideals, and in asseverating that the primitive u beast 
of prey prowling avidly after booty and victory " was 
the only type of the human species worthy of ad- 
miration, and that the tamed modern species is 
but a diseased distortion. We will deal] later with 
the lacuna caused in Nietzsche's philosophy by his 
refusal to recognise the true significance of the 
Aristotelian doctrine that man is a ^wov ttoXltikov 
when we show that even from his own standpoint 
the modern state of man is preferable to the primal. 
Suffice it for the present to say that, however large a 
part of the truth Nietzsche captured with this potent 
theory, there remains a not inconsiderable part which 
still eluded him. 


Having endeavoured thus to dispose of the " ethi- 
cally good " and " ethically bad " by the theory that 
such ideas are merely distortions of the ideas of 
" practically good and practically bad," Nietzsche in 
the second essay of the Genealogy makes a similar 
effort to take the sting out of the ideas of " Schuld " 
(guilt, debt), and " schlechtes Gewissen " (bad con- 
science). But here, again, difficulties beset our revolu- 


tionary. He approves of responsibility and the sacred- 
ness of the promise, but disapproves of the bad con- 
science by which the individual would enforce these 
things on himself. He blesses justice, but damns the 
social system. We shall find it hard to follow him in 
his attempted reconciliation of these divergent stand- 
points. When, for instance, he alludes with almost 
paternal approbation to the savage mnemonics by 
which the M conscience " (per se) was produced, and 
then proceeds to an envenomed, if none the less 
brilliant polemic against the u bad conscience," we see 
that in reality it is not so much the existence of a 
conscience qua conscience, to which he objects, but 
the existence of a conscience functioning on what he 
conceives to be a vicious basis. Indeed, even the 
most faithful of our prophet's disciples would admit 
that the Nietzschean teaching lays down as thorny 
and toilsome a path for the u bold, bad man," or 
ubermensch, as Christianity ever decreed for the good 
man or weakling. The only difference, in fact, 
between Nietzschean and Christian ethics is that 
between excessive self-affirmation and excessive self- 
negation. But one has only to read Zarathustra to 
realise immediately that this self-affirmation is no 
heedless hedonism, but a tense and chronic struggle 
of the ego against the world, subject to as rigid 
rules and braving as intense martyrdoms as does the 
Christian struggle of the spirit against the flesh. We 
may say, in fact, that on an officially Nietzschean 
basis the " bad " man who fails in being thoroughly 
and perfectly bad is, and apparently properly so, 
subject to as poignant pangs as is the " good " man 
who fails in being thoroughly and perfectly good. 

Granted, however, that it is the content of the bad 
conscience rather than the existence of a bad con- 
science per se, which provokes his righteous indigna- 


tion, let us make some attempt to see how far 
Nietzsche is logical in condemning, as he does, exist- 
ing ethics as the bastard child of contract and re- 
venge, thriving amid a civilisation which has no real 
right to exist. Nietzsche starts off in fine feather to 
prove that the word " Schuld " (guilt) is the same 
as the word u Schuld " (debt), as though that momen- 
tous piece of philological research crushed all ethics 
once and for all. We do not for a moment dispute 
the philology. Moreover, as far as the general prin- 
ciple is concerned, it had been previously pointed 
out by Maine that all crimes were in their origin 
torts that is to say, private wrongs against the indi- 
vidual (though doubts as to how far this theory is 
to be carried are raised by the universal execration 
which even in the most primitive societies was visited 
on murderers like Cain or Orestes). 

It may, moreover, be true that in many cases the 
local god is simply a deceased ancestor promoted to 
a heavenly status, who requires payment for protect- 
ing his descendants. But such arguments can at 
the best merely have effect on the theological concep- 
tion of morality as a divine ordinance descending 
immediately from heaven. From the sociological 
standpoint, indeed, to derive " ethics " from " con- 
tract " is simply to consolidate one phase of the 
social instinct by deriving it from another. As, 
however, has been hinted before, it was the theo- 
logical conception that was Nietzsche's main objective. 
So long as he could kill that, he was indifferent to 
the price, if, indeed, his morbidly classic and aristo- 
cratic standpoint did not hold that the taint of the 
bourgeois and the fidvavaos attached automatically to 
everything commercial. 

The shifts, however, to which Nietzsche is driven 
are well illustrated when we come to that further 



stage in his evolution of the moral idea, which 
consists in deriving modern ethics or the a bad 
conscience " from the principle of " resentment " or 
" revenge," which is alleged to be a totally distinct 
thing from the "active feeling" by which Justice 
enforces its sanctions. But with all due respect to 
Nietzsche and his official expounders, we find it 
hard to appreciate any real difference in principle 
between the various drastic measures by which the 
social organism enforces its decree. The punishment 
for murder, we suggest, would be equally death both 
in a Nietzschean and in a non-Nietzschean state, and 
how anything more than the merest verbal distinction 
is achieved by labelling one sanction the " active 
emotion of justice " and the other " the principle of 
resentment " we are frankly at a loss to conceive. 
We can only say that the basing of the ''bad con- 
science " on the spirit of revenge is true in the sense 
that from one aspect the function of the social 
organism is to protect the many against the few by 
the enforcements of drastic punishments against 
its transgressors. That, moreover, the strong are 
unduly restricted to pamper the weak is an arguable 
proposition, how arguable, can be seen from the 
present volubility of the financially strong when 
menaced nowadays with taxation for the benefit 
of the financially weak. But to go to the length of 
saying that the whole social fabric is a morbid 
distortion, a thing intrinsically bad, a kind of quasi- 
theological fall from an ideal state of primitive 
anarchy, is, at the most charitable estimate, a mere 
piece of poetic extravagance. Yet to this length 
Nietzsche goes when he pictures his blonde primaeval 
beast swung into " new situations and conditions of 
existence " ; in other words, into the ** pale of 
society with a spring and rush." The apparent 


suddenness of the transition strikes us, indeed, as naif 
as the philosophy of Rousseau or of Hobbes, who 
actually conceived the social contract as a specific 
bargain entered into at a specific time. 

One of the most interesting parts, however, of the 
whole essay is Nietzsche's explanation of the u bad 
conscience " as the result of the primitive energy of 
the savage venting itself in psychological self-torture 
when debarred from its natural outlet of physical 
violence. " All instincts which do not vent them- 
selves without vent themselves within," so runs the 
dictum of the prophet, a dictum no doubt of great 
psychological truth, and capable of concrete illus- 
tration when applied to nuns, monks, and other 
ascetics, or to definite cases of neurotic introspection, 
but clearly not deserving to be treated as the key to 
the whole social fabric. 

We have already remarked that the real weakness 
of the Nietzschean philosophy lay in the neglect of 
the Aristotelian theory that man was a tyov ttoXitikov 
or a social animal. Let us resume this line of inquiry. 
Nietzsche does, it is true, refer to the " herd instinct " 
of the weak, but only to exhibit his very palpable 
contempt against the weak who herd together so as 
to be able effectually to combat the strong. A yet 
further proof of Nietzsche's bitter hatred of the social 
organism is supplied by the celebrated phrases in 
Zaratliustra, " as little state as possible," and u the 
slow suicide which we call the state." In our view, 
however, the real test of Nietzsche's position is 
touched when we come to the position of the aristo- 
cratic strong man. "Are they," one wonders, " tainted 
or untainted with the herd instinct ? " Nietzsche's 
answer to this question seems to be that, so far as 
concerns the vast bulk of the herd, they are inimical 
to the social instinct, but that none the less they find 


social organisation (apparently that identical state 
which we have seen spoken of as " slow suicide ") 
necessary, not only for keeping the herd in proper 
order, but for the purpose of " their own fight with 
other complexes of power." Viewed impartially, how- 
ever, it does not seem to us that Nietzsche pays suf- 
ficient importance to the universality and value of 
the social instinct. Perhaps the root of the whole 
matter lies in the fact that Nietzsche fixes apparently 
the human unit as the individual, whereas, in point 
of fact, it is that state in miniature, the family. The 
origin of the family may no doubt be found in the 
primaeval instincts of sex and parentship. None the 
less, it is an indisputed sociological fact that the family, 
or its larger manifestation the tribe, is, as is evident 
from the slightest perusal of the works of Darwin, 
Maine, or Westermarck, the primitive form of human 
life. It would obviously be outside the scope of this 
preface to go in detail into the whole question of the 
origin of society, but it would also appear an indis- 
putable platitude that man, qua man, thrives by 
co-operation and association. In economical termin- 
ology this truth is known as the division of labour, 
in sociology by our frequently quoted Aristotelian 
dictum that man is a social animal. Nietzsche, it is 
true, tries to evade, or at any rate minimise, the force 
of this fact by treating law as the concrete exemplifi- 
cation of might is right. This, of course, is true as 
far as it goes, but it is only one side of the medal. 
All law is based on sovereignty, and all sovereignty 
is in the last resort based on force. It is possible, 
no doubt, for this force, this ultimate sanction to be 
exercised on approved Nietzschean principles by the 
few against the many. To quote the words of Ihering, 
the great Austrian jurist ; " And so force, when it 
allies itself with insight and self-control, produces law. 


It is the origin of law out of the power of the stronger 
who stands in opposition to another, of which we 
now begin to get a glimpse." Yet, even though for 
the moment we confine ourselves to this aspect, it is 
obvious that while such a law subjugates the weak 
to the strong, it also regulates and curtails the rights of 
the strong among themselves, creating, as it were, a 
state within a state, or, to use once again the language 
of Ihering, "the self-limitation of force in its own 
interest." Equally important, however, is the obverse 
side of the medal, on which appears the exercise of the 
ultimate sanction by the many against the few. To 
quote Ihering for the last time : u The crucial point 
in the whole organisation of law is the preponderance 
of the common interests of all over the particular 
interests of the individuals." The vice, then, of 
Nietzsche's theory is that he bisects law into its two 
constituent phases, ignores one phase and confines 
himself to the other, apparently in blissful oblivion of 
the fact that even in the most aristocratic of aristo- 
cracies there exists, even though in miniature, the 
" slow suicide of the state." 

There is a further criticism which seems to arise 
properly out of Nietzsche's vehement denunciation of 
civilisation. The state and civilisation are bad accord- 
ing to Nietzsche, because they take the sting out of 
this struggle for existence, and cut the fangs of the 
superman. But, according to Nietzschean principles, 
are they not equally good in so far as they enable the 
superman to refine and elaborate his scale of combat ? 
It is, indeed, obvious that the intellectualisation of the 
blonde beast of primitive times into the newspaper 
proprietor, American financier, or revolutionary phil- 
osopher of modernity would have been impossible but 
for the intervention of a very highly developed social 
organism. Yet even the most confirmed Nietzschean 


would admit that Mr. Rockefeller is, in spite of his 
evangelistic proclivities, a more highly developed 
specimen of the superman than Tamerlane, and 
Lord Northcliffe than, say, Caesar Borgia. 

One final observation : according to Nietzsche the 
test of merit is efficiency and the test of efficiency is 
success. Supposing, however, that a large number of 
individuals comparatively weak overpower through 
sheer force of combination a small number of indi- 
viduals comparatively strong. Are not the weak 
changed into the strong, and conversely ? We do 
not say that this is necessarily so : we merely adduce 
the argument to show how easily Nietzschean prin- 
ciples lend themselves to exploitation at the hands of 
the Socialists. 

Nietzsche's philosophy, however, was above all 
didactic, missionary. He analysed contemporary 
morality, not by way of an academic or scientific 
exercise, but with a view to striking, and striking 
hard, at that aspect of it which he quite honestly 
believed to be vicious and deleterious. Hence it is 
that having in his first two essays dealt with the 
etymological and legal aspects of the question, he now 
goes straight to the root of the whole matter. What 
is the practical application of all these tendencies 
which he has analysed? The ascetic ideal and 
against this ideal our teacher proceeds to deliver as 
tense and concentrated a sermon as ever fell from the 
lips of any denouncer of the luxurious or non-ascetic 
ideal. We have not space, unfortunately, to follow 
Nietzsche through his elaborate analysis both of the 
ascetic ideal in its origin and in its eventual distortion 
and corruption at the hands of the ascetic priest. We 
will only observe that to grasp properly Nietzsche's 
position, stress should be laid on the fact that in the 
same way in which it was not the conscience per se, but 


the current content of the conscience, so it was not 
asceticism per se, but the current content of asceticism 
to which Nietzsche objected. 

As he explains in drastic and elaborate style, the 
philosopher, like the jockey or the athlete, would, 
through the simple exigencies of his metier, live the 
ascetic life. In such cases asceticism is simply the 
mechanical condition precedent of complete concen- 
tration. Similarly, the iibermensch (superman) would 
no doubt be compelled to live the ascetic life in his 
strenuous struggle with subsisting values. The asceti- 
cism, however, to which Nietzsche in fact did object, 
was the asceticism which was not like the philosopher's 
asceticism, a means to creating or promoting actual 
human life, but was a means to destroying and mini- 
mising actual human life, the asceticism which denied 
the right to happiness, and which found in sin the 
solution to the riddle of the human world. 

Indeed, it is thoroughly characteristic of Nietzsche's 
whole attitude that he demurs vigorously to almost 
any solution of the riddle of the world. According 
to his reasoning, the need for any solution at all, 
whether transcendental, after the pattern of Kant 
and the Idealists, or quasi-transcendental, after the 
pattern of the pseudo-metaphysics of the scientists, 
argues an inability to take life on its own merits and 
on its own valuation. 

Let us finally glance briefly at the practical 
application of the Nietzschean philosophy, a course 
thoroughly consistent with the intensely practical 
spirit of our prophet. We are at first almost over- 
whelmed by the heterogeneous character of those 
who profess to be the true disciples of the great 
master, a character so heterogeneous, forsooth, that 
Nietzsche seems occasionally to be nothing but a 
catch-word mouthed by every conceivable school of 


thought with the rankest impunity. The Socialists, 
conveniently forgetting the opprobrious designation 
by the sage as " spiders," and their apostolic " Man 
is not equal," which he had thundered forth, find a 
bond of sympathy in their common disapproval of 
Christianity, though even here their standpoints 
are radically different, since while the u tarantulas " 
rebelled against it as being too narrow a prison, 
Nietzsche scorns it as being too comfortable a lounge. 
Zarathustra, moreover, showed himself truly Persian 
in his repudiation of the claims of the child-bearing 
machine called woman to equal rights with the 
warrior-man : u When thou goest with women," 
quoth the prophet, " forget not the whip." Nothing 
daunted, however, the shrieking hordes of the ultra- 
modern sisterhood, from the " Free Lover " to the 
" Ethical Lifer," find in Nietzsche the most emphatic 
justification for alike their theories and their practices. 
Does not Es Lebe das Leben, the well-known drama 
of Sudermann, portray the philosophical dogma of 
self-expression leading to highly unphilosophic appli- 
cations ? Does not the Scandinavian writer and 
woman with a mission, Ella Key, start her book 
Personality and Beauty with the following quotations 
from Nietzsche : " Follow after thyself what says 
thy conscience ? thou shalt be that which thou art 
let the highest self-expression be thy highest ex- 
pression." Truly the Nietzschean aphorisms seem 
caps guaranteed to fit the most diverse heads so, but 
they show the slightest disposition to tumidity. 
Young men and nations in a hurry, Socialists and 
aristocrats, aesthetes and " woman's righters," all 
combine in a cacophonous chorus well calculated to 
make the shade of Zarathustra, should he visit 
Europe, hasten back in disgust to the mountain 
peaks of his solitude. 


Yet, however susceptible to abuse the Nietzschean 
philosophy may be, such a multifarious exploitation, 
though repudiated from the official standpoint, does 
not strike us as necessarily illogical. The doctrine 
of the superman, indeed, has in Nietzsche two distinct 
meanings the evolution of generic man to his ex- 
treme limit, as exemplified in the aphorism, u Man is 
a bridge between beast and superman," and secondly 
the idealisation of the clash between the individual 
and society, the apotheosis of the aggressive comba- 
tant element in man, the to Ov/jLoelSes of the Platonic 
trinity. Yet, whatever meaning may be chosen, it is 
well-nigh impossible to prevent individuals from 
cherishing the honest and sincere belief that in 
developing themselves (whether with or without the 
rigid discipline incumbent upon the orthodox super- 
man), they are either helping the development of 
the race, or providing a picturesque expression of a 
considerably altered, but still authentic, " Athanasius 
contra mundum." With the present boom no doubt 
Nietzscheanism may become a craze (in Germany, of 
course, it is already passe and has become academic 
and respectable), like the aestheticism of the Wilde 
period and grown liable to equal if dissimilar per- 

Yet none the less, if taken very broadly and very 
sanely, Nietzsche is capable of constituting a valuable 
modern bible for the twentieth-century man who 
proposes to live vastly and to play for grand stakes. 
It may no doubt be true that while Heine and Voltaire 
merely shot poisoned arrows at Christianity, Nietzsche 
blew it clean away with the giant salvos of his artil- 
lery ; yet on the tremendous space that he cleared he 
built a temple to Energy and Efficiency. And note, 
that he worships these deities not for any ulterior 
advantage, but for their own sake solely. His frenzy 


for life precludes him at once from being a pessimist ; 
it does not follow, however, that he is an optimist (in 
the hedonistic sense of the word), for neither in his 
own life, nor in his conception of that of others, do 
we find it clearly expressed that the pleasures of life 
outweigh the pains. More accurate is it to say that he 
is a philosophy transcending optimism. u On ! On ! ! 
On ! ! ! Live ! Live ! ! Live ! ! ! whatever the result 
and whatever your fate. Fight life and chance every- 
thing, for the fight's the thing rather than the mere 
trumpery guerdon." So we would venture to phrase 
the true Nietzschean spirit, or if an actual quotation 
is required, " / say unto you it is not the good cause 
which sanctifies the war, but the good war which sanctifies 
the cause." 

The most marvellous thing, however, about this 
grim lust of life is that it is absolutely insatiate, absol- 
utely infinite. According to the theory of the Eternal 
Return, the events of this life will repeat and repeat 
with the tireless inevitability of a recurring decimal. 
Taken literally, no doubt this theory is simply the 
mystical dance of a Titanic mind striving to scale in- 
finity. But the psychological significance is none the 
less profound. Is it not turning the tables with a 
vengeance on the Christian idea of a prospective non- 
earthly existence, compared with which this existence 
is a mere shadowy preparation, to pile future life on 
future life on future life, and every one of them a 
repetition of man's life on earth ? It is impossible 
for the affirmation of human existence to be carried 
further. And this human existence, what is its solu- 
tion ? None, or rather itself ! Existence is its own 
sanction, its own raison d'etre, and he who coldly 
ravishes the sphinx of life has found a drastic solution 
far excelling that of any CEdipus. 


" I seek God and find the Devil." 

" My hate is boundless as the wastes, burning as the sun, and stronger 
than my love." 

The above quotations give some idea of that black 
pessimism which is, at any rate, the most patent 
characteristic of Strindberg. Yet neither quotation, 
motto, nor catchword can do justice to the multi- 
farious life and character of this man. For Strind- 
berg, more than any other European author of our 
age, has boxed the whole compass of our modernity 
with its tumults, its aspirations, its perversities ; its 
glaring searchlights of science, its pallid flames of 
mysticism, and its needle ever pointing to the two 
opposite though connected poles of sex. He is in 
turns the most rabid of atheists, the most devout of 
Catholics, the most esoteric of occultists ; now the 
most Utopian of Socialists, now the most uncom- 
promising of individualists. Running the gauntlet of 
three unhappy and dissolved marriages, he has become 
the European specialist in conjugal infelicity, to say 
nothing of being credited with innumerable conquests, 
which he himself would doubtless have designated 
as captures. His novels, his autobiographies, and 
his equally subjective dramas all exhale the most 
sulphurous hate against the distorted anomaly of the 
new woman, yet he is an Orpheus who, scorning 
the prosaic joys of some normal and uninteresting 
Eurydice, surrenders himself with almost patho- 



logical gusto to be torn to pieces by the monstrous 
maenads of modernity. The paroxysms of his hate 
alternate with moods of the most sentimental idealism, 
and the harsh impetus of his onslaught is only 
equalled by the, at times, abject meekness of his 
romantic devotion. 

Before, consequently, we embark on some slight 
survey of Strindberg's life and of the more character- 
istic of his numerous works, let us endeavour to lay 
hold of the clues of one or two primary features 
which will serve as a guide in the, at first sight, 
extremely tangled labyrinth of his psychology. 

Now the dominant emotion in Strindberg's tem- 
perament is fear. It is this fear which, at times 
assuming the dimensions of paranoia or systematised 
delusion and persecution mania, largely supplies the 
explanation to his whole attitude towards Man, 
Woman, and God. He possessed also a vehemently 
explosive egoism and a gigantic intellect, at times 
dominating his fear and functioning with the most 
powerful precision, but as often as not interpreting 
the whole external world in the terms of some pre- 
conceived subjective emotion. Add also a morbidly 
hypertrophied sexual sensibility, together with a dis- 
tinct strain of genuine idealism, and one may perhaps 
be able to envisage with some accuracy the cardinal 
points of our author's brain. 

August Strindberg was born in 1849, the son of 
a mesalliance between a shipping agent and a servant 
girl. The circumstances of his childhood tended to 
magnify that morbid sense of fear which, according 
to our most eminent psychologists, is always innate 
and never altogether acquired. The two parents, 
the seven children, and the two servants lived in two 
rooms, and the family always appeared to him like 
M a prison in which two prisoners watched each other, 


a place where children were tortured and maids 
brawled." His mother died when he was thirteen, 
to be succeeded by the inevitable stepmother. His 
school life also was unhappy, but his description of 
it, though no doubt perfectly consistent with actual 
hardship, exhibits at the same time the reactions of 
a morbid sensibility to the hard facts of external life. 
" Life was a penitentiary for crimes which one had 
committed before one was born, so that the child 
always went about with a bad conscience." 

Note also, at the same time, the presence of the 
combative aggressive element in the boy who would 
lose nearly every game of chess by the inconsidered 
vehemence of his attack, or would break open chests 
of drawers in the fury of his desire to obtain their 
contents. And observe the early manifestations of 
that fundamental emotion which was to obtain 
throughout his life alternative outlets in the two 
parallel channels of religion and sex. Thus, like 
Byron, he experienced a violent passion for a girl 
before the age of puberty. So far, again, as religion 
was concerned, he had a great horror of darkness 
and the unknown, and his deity would appear to 
have been a god rather of fear than of love. And 
though Scandinavians as a race take Christianity 
far more seriously than the inhabitants of any 
other European country, he would appear to have 
possessed, even for a Scandinavian, the religious 
temperament to an unusual degree. Thus, he said 
his prayers on his way to school, and evinced a 
precocious desire to become a priest. But the re- 
ligious element became dormant amid the chequered 
vicissitudes which signalised his youth and his adoles- 
cence. He started to study medicine at the Uni- 
versity of Upsala, but his lack of funds broke into 
his college career and compelled him to earn his 


own living. He is by turns telegraph clerk, editor 
of an insurance paper (for which purpose he specially 
learns the higher mathematics), tutor in the family 
of a rich Jewish physician, actor in the Karl Moor of 
Schiller's Robbers, journalist on a daily paper (where 
the drastic offensiveness of his criticisms made his 
position on the staff intolerable), and librarian in the 
Royal Library of Stockholm (when he specially learns 
Chinese for the purpose of compiling a catalogue). 
His struggles were bitter and continued, and the 
acuteness of his privations manifests itself in a deep 
consciousness of class hatred against the prosperous 
and not infrequently dishonest philistinism of the 

Note, also, the occurrence of combined religious 
and persecution mania in the crises of his illness and 
despondency. For at such times he takes the Devil 
himself as seriously as the Deity, believes in an 
u Evil God to whom the Creator had handed over 
the world," and " has the consciousness of being 
personally persecuted by personal powers of evil." 
These emotional outbursts are all the more interest- 
ing because intellectually he had become the most 
fanatical of freethinkers, had read with profit Buckle's 
History of Civilisation in England, and was a fervent 
disciple of the new naturalism. During this period 
he had already begun to write dramas, none of 
which, however, have any substantial significance 
with the possible exception of the historical drama 
Meister Olof, which was unsuccessfully performed in 
1877-8, and into which the already misogynous 
author had introduced the character of the prostitute, 
u in order to show that the difference between her 
and the ordinary woman is not so enormously 

In 1879, however, Strindberg achieved a succes de 


scandale with his novel The Red Room. The satire of 
this book (written, it will be remembered, during his 
freethought years), may, no doubt, be the milk of 
Christian charity when compared with the concen- 
trated vitriol of the Black Flags of his Catholic period, 
and the various scenes and pictures may, no doubt, 
strike the critic as episodic and lacking in systematic 
cohesion, yet the work has some claim to recognition 
by reason of the vivid force of its description of 
contemporaneous life. The naively idealistic hero, 
the shady actress passing from seduction to seduction 
with all the facility of the experienced Ingenue, the 
respectable director of the shoddy insurance com- 
pany, the insidious Jewish financial broker, the 
cynical journalist, the grim but benevolent doctor, 
are all portrayed in a style which at once shines and 
chills with all the brightness of the coldest steel. 
Viewed psychologically, the book is significant as 
exhibiting the Socialistic fury of an embittered man 
"whose class-hatred lay in his blood and in his 
nerves," and who revenges himself on the system 
which had conspired against him, by exposing with 
sinister precision its most repulsive truths. 

The cynicism of The Red Room was succeeded by 
the Utopian romanticism of the dramas, Das Geheim- 
niss der Glide, Frau Margit, Gluckspeter. The change 
in mood is probably to be ascribed to the vogue of 
The Red Room, and to the initial success of his alliance 
with his first wife, Siri von Essen, the actress, whom 
he had married in 1878, and who was subsequently 
to enjoy the ambiguous blessing of being officially 
immortalised in The Confession of a Fool. 

This mood, in its turn, was soon replaced by a 
concentrated and fanatical misogynism which was to 
dominate practically every book which Strindberg 
was subsequently to write. The fundamental cause 


was, no doubt, the morbidly irritable and suspicious 
nature of the man himself. Strindberg's whole 
attitude towards woman, however, is only fully 
understood by some appreciation of the New Woman 
Movement, which under the auspices of Ellen Key 
flourished vigorously in Sweden in the " eighties." 
Like, for instance, our own Suffragette agitation, or 
indeed, any popular craze, however intrinsically 
meritorious, this movement, which was, above all, a 
crusade for sexual equality, was attended by wild and 
perverse extravagances. Not merely the genuinely 
masculine woman, but every little doll of a woman 
in every little doll's house, became obsessed with the 
imperative necessity of the emancipation of her own 
body and the self-development of her own soul. A 
holy war of the sexes was proclaimed, and the sacred 
shibboleth of the New Thought, the New Ethics, and 
the New Love was soon in the mouth of every 
woman possessed of the true feminine esprit de corps. 
And with the praiseworthy object of adjusting the 
balance of nature, and of arriving so far as possible 
at the ideal harmony of an almost perfect equation, 
in some cases even the little boys would be brought 
up as girls, while, conversely, the little girls would 
be educated as boys. 

But the misogynism of Strindberg was something 
far more than a merely intellectual appreciation 
of the Anti-Feminist standpoint. Even making 
allowance for the considerable impetus doubtless 
given to his attack by reason of his personal 
matrimonial complications, the cause lay far more 
deeply ingrained in his own constitution. For the 
arrogation by the female of equal rights to the 
male would of itself tend to provoke the violent 
apprehensiveness of a man always morbidly alarmed 
at the slightest suggestion of any interference 


with his own personal rights, and always scenting 
a grievance with all the superhuman flair of the 
true maniac of persecution. Strindberg's hatred 
of woman is thus to a large extent the hatred self- 
begotten of fear out of its own spirit, and without 
the superfluous aid of a concrete reality. If, too, 
we identify Strindberg himself with some of his 
men characters (e.g. Kurt in The Death Dance, Axel 
in Playing with Fire, or the narrator of The Confession 
of a Fool), who render to the objects of their passion 
acts of the most abject servility, and who kiss the 
feet of women almost as frequently as their lips, 
we would hazard the suggestion that he himself 
(who owns to having found in his reverence for 
woman a substitute for his reverence for God) would 
in certain moods welcome with morbid alacrity this 
new feminine domination, while his reaction from 
this inverted attitude would but lash his misogynism 
to even more hysterical paroxysms. 

These considerations may perhaps explain why 
in so many of his works the Strindberg woman and 
the Strindberg man are so highly specialised. The 
typical Strindberg woman is a fiend with the physique 
of a Madonna and the soul of a vampire, who sucks 
dry the life-blood of her heroic victim. The typical 
Strindberg man is a Samson shorn of his strength, 
writhing in the toils of some Delilah, protesting 
vociferously, and yet taking a morbid delight in 
his own bondage. English readers will remember 
the not altogether unanalogous case of John Tanner, 
that converse Don Juan of Mr. Shaw, who, with 
all his fanfaronnade of masculine independence, is, 
as he has from the beginning feared, anticipated 
and desired, successfully hunted down by his sly 
and dashing Donna Juana. 

After the publication of The Red Room, Strindberg 



visited both Switzerland and Paris, where he was 
invited to meet Bjornsen, entered into relations with 
the Theatre Libre of M. Antoine, had one or two 
of his plays produced, and meditated an unfortunately 
written satire on the French capital. In 1883 he 
produced Swedish Destinies, a volume of essays on 
contemporary problems, whose romantic masquerade 
would seem to have effectively concealed its under- 
lying satire. 

The most significant work, however, which he 
published at this period was the volume of twelve (sub- 
sequently expanded to twenty) short stories, entitled 
Marriage. These tales all treat of the various phases, 
economic, social, psychological, and physiological, of 
the sexual problem, which he observed either in his own 
life or in the couples whom he saw in a Swiss pension. 
The characteristic of this work is its extraordinary 
seriousness. For to Strindberg the sexual problem 
provides neither the excuse for the philosophic flip- 
pancy of the cynic, nor for the priggish modernity 
of the ethical or intellectual snob, but is the one 
obsessing reality of actual life. 

Compared with the black pessimism of this work 
(relieved though it may be at times by a ray of 
tender sentiment or deep paternal feeling), the 
grimmest stories of Wedekind are benignly jovial 
and the most scabrous tales of De Maupassant but 
innocently sportive. Neither smile, nor even leer, 
ever breaks the set visage of this stern irony, which 
seems indistinguishable from life itself. There are 
no artificial climaxes or ostentatious flourishes of 
style to prick the senses of the reader. Described 
in a language of the most brutal phlegm and the 
most forceful simplicity, the facts of reality do their 
own unaided work. Each story is no mere dexter- 
ously elaborated incident, but a condensed life. 


How powerful, for instance, is such a story as Asra, 
the history of the pious youth afflicted with anaemia 
by reason of his own continence, and dying two 
years after his marriage with that superabundantly 
healthy ethical worker who subsequently married 
twice again, had eight children, and wrote articles 
on over-population and immorality. And how 
genuinely awful is Autumn, that frigid anti-climax 
of a stale and re-hashed honeymoon : 

" And she sang, * What is the name of the land in which my 
darling dwells?' But, alas, the voice was thin and sharp. It 
was at times like a shriek from the depths of the soul that fears 
that the noon is passed, and that the evening is approaching. 
When the song was over, she did not at first dare to turn round, 
as though she was expecting that he would come to her and 
say something. But he did not come ; and there was silence 
in the room. When at last she turned round on her chair, he 
sat on the sofa and cried. She wanted to get up, take his head 
in her hands, and kiss him as before ; but she remained seated, 
motionless, with her gaze turned to the floor. . . . 

" They drank coffee, and spoke about the coolness of the summer 
weather, and where they would spend the summer next year. 
But the conversation began to dry up ; and they repeated them- 
selves. At last he said, after a long, undisguised yawn, ' I'm 
going to bed now.' 'So will I,' she said, and got up, 'but I will 
go first and have a look on the balcony.' 

" When she came back, she remained standing and listening at 
the door of the bedroom. All was quiet inside, and the boots 
were outside the door. She knocked, but there was no answer. 
Then she opened the door, and went in. He slept ! He slept ! " 

Though, moreover, the characters in Marriage are 
more normal and average than in any other of 
Strindberg's works, the author airs again and again 
his pet sexual grievances. Corinna, in particular, 
and The Due/, are savage attacks respectively on 
the ethical amazon and the womanly woman who 
makes her very womanliness an engine of tyranny, 
while the Breadwinner narrates how an apparently 
quite impeccable husband and father, writing him- 


self to death to support his family, was driven to 
suicide by the naggings and exactions of a querulous 
and discontented wife. 

Marriage was succeeded by the Utopian Swiss 
Tales; but the strenuous economic struggles to 
which Strindberg was now subjected forced him 
to discard as insipid the vague compromise of 
free-thought and to drink the bracing tonic of 
a Nietzschean and self-reliant atheism. ** God, 
Heaven, and Eternity had to be thrown overboard 
if the ship was to be kept afloat ; and it had to be 
kept afloat because I was not alone ... I became an 
atheist as a matter of duty and necessity." 

Yet it is interesting to observe that, taking the 
solution of the World-Riddle as a matter of acute 
personal importance, he studies the whole history 
of mankind to 'satisfy himself that he is right in 
his conclusion, and that the element of superstition 
is still so strong that when his child is ill he 
prays, atheist that he is, with all the fervour of a 
Christian Scientist. To the period of his atheism 
are to be ascribed, with the exception of Black 
Flags, his most powerful, most drastic work, his two 
packed volumes of one-act plays, the autobiographic 
Confession of a Fool, and the Nietzschean novel, The 
Open Sea. 

Note also that his matrimonial misery and his 
divorce from his first wife had given an additional 
poison to a sting which was always morbidly eager 
to inject its venom. 

The plays of Strindberg belong to the naturalistic 
school of problem-play which was in full vogue 
during the period of their composition. Technically 
their originality lies in the intensity of their concen- 
tration. Though many of them are one-acters and 
they nearly all observe the unity of place, they re- 


semble less the ordinary curtain-raiser than the one 
solitary act round which the ordinary modern play is 
usually written. Each play is nothing but climax. 
Though in some cases they are nearly as long as 
ordinary drama, it is rare that they have any sub- 
sidiary characters. Even the protagonists are too 
occupied with the urgencies of their own immediate 
crises, and with exposing the nakedness of their own 
souls, to have time for either the artificial jewels of 
the Pinerovian epigram or the flying rockets of the 
Shavian dialectic. The problem is stuck too deep 
into their lives to require any artificial flourishing. 
Observe, too, that nearly every play is a variation 
on one theme, the mutual hate, fear, and war of a 
malevolent humanity. Their very love but sharpens 
their enmity, and they draw blood with nearly every 

The three -act play, The Father, ventilates the author's 
chronic grievance of the ruin of the man by the 
woman. The plot is cruel in its simplicity. The 
husband, though in a state of acute nervous disorder, 
is not certifiable. The wife, anxious for a freer life, 
smuggles a doctor into the house, plays adroitly on 
the man's pet mania that he is not the father of his 
own daughter, forges in his handwriting a letter 
branded with insanity, goads him into throwing a 
burning lamp at her, and with the aid of his old nurse 
gets him by a ruse into a strait-jacket, in which he 
succumbs to a stroke. Yet with all its concentrated 
sensationalism, and work though it may be of a con- 
stitutional maniac of persecution, the play is too deep, 
too sincere, too fundamentally convincing to be ever 
near that line which separates the realm of tragedy 
from the pandemonium of melodrama. With what 
ghastly irony does the daughter innocently prick the 
sensitive sore in her father's brain : 


[Rittmeister sits huddled up on the settee. 

BERTHA. Do you know what you've done ? Do you know you've 
thrown the lamp at Mamma ? 

Rittmeister. Have I ? 

Bertha. Yes, you have. Just think if she'd been hurt ? 

Rittmeister. What would that have mattered ? 

Bertha. You are not my father if you can talk like that. 

Rittmeister {gets up). What do you say ? Am I not your 
father? How do you know that ? Who told you so ? And who 
is your father, then ? Who ? 

But of all Strindberg's plays, indisputably the most 
powerful is Miss Julie, that gripping tragedy of the 
over-sexed young woman who on an oppressive mid- 
summer evening insists on being seduced by her 
father's butler. The girl is of noble birth, and the 
duel of sex is intensified by the duel of class. In the 
fifty pages of this play, with its three characters of 
the woman, the butler, and the cook, which observes 
rigorously the Aristotelian unities, every element of 
the highest and gravest tragedy is introduced with 
the most accurate and natural psychology the exag- 
gerated dancing of the daughter of the house, who 
competes with her own cook for the favours of her 
own butler-lover ; the ribald grins and songs of the 
servants ; the mingled insolence, common sense, and 
respectfulness of the domestic ; the hysterical reaction 
of the declassed and dishonoured girl. The following 
passages may perhaps give some faint idea of this 
work's sustained and infernal power : 

[JOHN opens the cupboard, takes a bottle of wine out, 
and fills two used glasses. 

The YOUNG Lady. Where do you get the wine from ? 

John. From the cellar. 

The young Lady. My father's burgundy. 

John. Ain't it good enough for his son-in-law ? 

The Woman. Thief ! 

John. Are you going to blab ? 


The Lady. Oh oh the accomplice of a thief. . . . 

JOHN. You hate men-folk, miss ? 

The Lady. Yes, as a rule ! . . . But at times, when I feel 
weak ugh ! 

John. You hate me, too? 

The Lady. Infinitely ! I could have killed you like an 
animal . . . 

And how clutching is the climax, when the girl, a 
simultaneous prey to nausea with life and to fear 
of death, persuades her domestic to hypnotise her 
into suicide at almost the precise minute when her 
father is ringing for his boots : 

The YOUNG Lady. Have you never been in a theatre and seen 
the mesmerist ? He says to the subject : " Take the broom" ; he 
takes it. He says " Sweep" ; and he sweeps. . . . 

JOHN {takes his razor and puts it into her hand). Here is the 
broom go now where there's plenty of light into the barn 
and (^whispers into her ear). 

Miss Julie is remarkable as being the only one of 
Strindberg's works in which the man comes off 
victorious with the exception of the four-act Comrades, 
that sombre comedy of Parisian artist life, where the 
crowing wife bullies her self-sacrificing husband on 
the score of having ousted him from the Salon by 
her own successful picture, only to be told that he 
had simply changed the numbers, and to be finally 
ejected from her perverted home by that reas- 
serted man whose efficiency she had despised and 
exploited, but whose virile despotism she now begins 
to love. 

In The Creditor, Strindberg treats again his favourite 
theme of the vampire woman and the spoliated man. 
Thekla, the usual worthless, demoniac female, having 
dissolved her marriage with the schoolmaster Gustav, 
has married the artist Adolph. The scene is the sea- 
side. Thekla has gone off on some jaunt. Her 


new husband, who is apparently even more miser- 
able without than with his wife, is a nervous wreck. 
He makes the acquaintance of the old husband, who 
presents himself incognito to readjust the balance of 
his matrimonial account. Gustav plays with masterly 
hypnotism on the suggestibility of his colleague, 
making him doubt himself, his vocation, his health, 
and at last his wife. And then when his wife returns, 
and the enfeebled husband has made an abortive 
attempt at asserting his theoretic virile superiority, 
he makes love to the wife, is detected by the visitors, 
and goes back to his own solitary misery, to leave 
his wife stranded and his new confrere dead. Note, 
too, that here again the human triangle is complete 
in itself, and that the agony is protracted to the last 
shred of its passion without ever flagging for one 
single moment. 

Space prohibits any complete discussion of the 
remaining plays in the cycle of Strindberg's Eleven 
One-acters. Yet we would mention Motherly Love, 
a variation on the theme of Mrs. Warren. The 
souteneuse mother, with all her loathsome affectation 
of wounded parental feeling, plays judiciously on the 
morbidly filial conscience of a clean-minded but 
weak-willed actress-daughter, prevents her from 
obtaining respectable friends or advancement on the 
stage, in order to preserve for herself her sole pro- 
fessional stock-in-trade. 

Equally impressive is The Bond, which expresses 
in one divorce-court scene the whole mordant 
tragedy of wrangling matrimony and authentic 
parental affection. 

In a lighter vein is Playing with Fire, the one real 
comedy which Strindberg ever wrote. In this the 
delightful menage of a young son, a young wife, a 
young friend of the family, a young charity cousin, and 


a philistine but by no means senile father, everybody is 
flirting with everybody else. Particularly admirable in 
its mixture of the comic and the ironic is the character 
and attitude of the conceited and ultra-modern artist- 
husband, genuinely jealous of that friend and of that 
wife whom he loves so sincerely, and yet throwing 
them into each other's arms in a compounded mood 
of priggish bravado and authentic affection. The 
friend, apprehensive lest he may have a bad con- 
science, is anxious to take a room in the village. 

The Wife. Why don't you stay with us ? Out with it. 

The Friend. I don't know. I think you ought to be left 
quiet. Besides it might happen that we should get fed up with 
each other. 

The Wife. Are you fed up with us already? I tell you, it 
won't do. I tell you that if you stay out there in the village, 
people will begin to talk. 

The Friend. Talk? What will they talk about? 

The Wife. Oh, you know perfectly well how stories get put 

The Son. You stay here there's an end of it. Let them talk. 
If you stay here, it goes without saying that you're my wife's 
lover, and if you stay in the village, it goes without saying that 
you've broken with each other, or that I've kicked you out. Con- 
sequently, I think it more honourable for you to be regarded as 
her lover eh, what ? 

The Friend. You certainly express yourself with considerable 
lucidity ; but in a case like this, I'd rather prefer to consider which 
is honourable for you two. 

As we have already hinted, an additional bitterness 
had been introduced into Strindberg's misogynism by 
the unhappiness of his own first marriage, which was 
dissolved in 1889. It is this marriage which Strind- 
berg celebrates in that phenomenal piece of official 
sexual autobiography, The Confession of a Fool, which 
has successfully scandalised the whole Continent of 
Europe. In comparison with this book the New 
Machiavelli is but the tamest Sunday-school reading, 


and the romantic confessions of Mr. George Moore 
the merest healthy pranks of robustious youth. This 
work throughout has the real spontaneity of the 
genuine diary rather than the studied frankness of 
the elaborate literary artificer. The young librarian 
is in Stockholm. A young lady makes advances to 
him. " She has an adventurous appearance, hover- 
ing between the artist, the blue-stocking, the daughter 
of the house, the fille dejoie, the new woman, and the 
coquette." She presses her suit, looks at him in an 
unambiguous manner, and " he only owes his virtue to 
her extraordinary ugliness." He is introduced to her 
friends, the Baron and Baroness X. He becomes the 
ami de famille. But the demon of sex is at work, and 
simply through keeping step with her in walking he 
will experience a unification of their whole nervous 
systems. Honourable man that he is, he runs away 
from danger, starts for Paris in a steamship, and is 
seen off amid the combined tears of the married pair. 
The ship sails. His nerves break down ; and in an 
hysterical paroxysm he insists on being disembarked, 
is attended by a priest and doctor at a small hotel, 
and returns post-haste to Stockholm. The Baroness 
runs away to a watering-place. But matters only 
progress with even greater rapidity on her return. 
The Baron is largely occupied with a cousin ; and an 
official declaration takes place between the wife and 
the lover. With ultra-modern honesty they imme- 
diately apprise the husband, who while giving them 
the widest margin within which to exercise their 
platonic affections, yet reposes implicit trust in their 
combined honour. A financial crash, however, dis- 
poses of the Baron ; and the gentleman is landed 
with his lady. There ensue all the joys and agonies 
of a ten-years' union. The couple are linked in the 
burning bonds of a mutual love and a mutual hate. 


The author has to sacrifice his own well-being and 
career to push forward his wife in her amateurish 
efforts in journalism and acting. From that time 
"legal prostitution enters into the marriage. . . ." 
She belongs to the public, she makes up and dresses 
for the public, and she consequently becomes " a 
prostitute who will finally send in her bill for such 
and such services." 

The moods alternate with the regularity of a pendu- 
lum. If at one moment " the nest of love has become 
transformed into a dog-kennel," and the author is 
morbidly jealous of nearly every man and every 
woman with whom his wife has the slightest acquaint- 
ance, strikes his wife, and endeavours to drown her ; 
it is only subsequently, in the last stages of servile 
uxoriousness, to idolise her again as a martyr and as 
a saint. Six times does he leave her (expending on one 
occasion in debauchery the proceeds of his pawned 
wedding-ring), and six times does he return, only to 
draw up at last this monstrous dossier of his con- 
jugal life: "The story is at an end, my beloved 
one ; I have revenged myself ; the account is 

Not altogether inexplicably, Strindberg has been 
much attacked on the score of this book. He has 
been charged with wickedly defaming an innocent 
and deserving woman. Yet even though the book 
be objectively false, it is subjectively true. It is im- 
possible to doubt its prodigious sincerity, even though 
this merely be the implicit sincerity of persecution 
mania. Every single nuance of the emotions of a 
man who honestly thinks that he is being unscrupu- 
lously exploited is faithfully described. The book 
may shock by its vehement coldness, its abnormal 
callousness, its matter-of-fact explicitness ; yet from 
the literary standpoint, its entire absence of affectation, 


the drastic ease of its simplicity, the swift naturalness 
of its diction, cannot fail to convince. It stands out 
from the whole of European literature as the super- 
lative masterpiece of suspicious love and monstrous 
morbid hate. 

In the great novel, By the Open Sea (1890), Strind- 
berg's Nietzschean mood achieves its grand zenith. 
The hero, Axel Borg (whom we may already remem- 
ber from The Red Room), " instead of, like the weak 
Christians, embracing a God outside himself, took 
what he could seize with his own hands and in his 
own self, and sought to make his own personality 
into a complete type of humanity." Borg, who com- 
bines with the ideals of the superman the hyper- 
sensitiveness of the neurotic, lives the single life as 
an inspector of fishery in a little village on the Swedish 
coast, where the sea " frightens not like the forest 
with its dark mystery, but brings quietude like an 
open great big true eye." He is pursued and caught 
by an over-sexed young woman, realises her worth- 
lessness, and sails out to commit suicide. 

" Out toward the new Star of Christmas, ran his voyage, out 
over the Sea, the All-Mother, from whose bosom the first spark of 
life was kindled, the inexhaustible source of fertility and love, life's 
origin and life's foe." 

This book, with its splendid nature-descriptions, 
the tragic dignity of its hero, and the azure swiftness 
of its limpid style, is one of Strindberg's most impres- 
sive feats. Yet even here the author's characteristic 
traits can be distinctly traced. The noble male is 
ruined by a despicable woman ; while here, too, 
the cosmic mysticism of the professed atheist (whose 
mood can perhaps be best expressed by the worn 
cliche of " being in tune with the infinite "), reveals 
only too clearly the emotional bias of a fundament- 
ally religious temperament. 


This temperament was soon to manifest itself in 
the most tragic form. Jaded with literature, and un- 
happy again in his second marriage with the Austrian 
authoress, Frida Uhl, in 1893, Strindberg embarked 
on the study of chemistry, took rooms in the Latin 
quarter, attended the Sorbonne laboratories, and 
imagined that he had revolutionised science by the 
discovery of a new element in sulphur. He had by 
now attained the, to him, crucial period of the late 
" forties," and the chronic excesses of his emotionalism 
now assumed a religious form, to the accompaniment 
of the most acute mania of persecution. 

His experiences in these years, 1895-8, are de- 
scribed in the Inferno and the Legends, works which 
the mystic and the psychologist can read with equal 
if heterogeneous edification. In these books, which 
are based on Strindberg's diaries during the actual 
time, the aberrations of a disorganised brain are set 
out with the most unconscious literary art. His 
delusions became systematised with all the ingenuity 
of the paranoiac. Every casual suggestion thrown up 
by his memory, or the events and associations of 
every-day life, every bit of science that he had ever 
studied or of mysticism that he had ever felt, are all 
utilised to build the infernal scheme of his mania. 
He is " the innocent sacrifice of an unjust persecu- 
tion," the prey of unknown powers, the conducting- 
point of electrical streams from unknown agencies. 
He asks for a miracle and sees in the heavens the 
ten commandments and the name of Jehovah. His 
friend Popoffski (in point of fact, the Polish-German 
novelist Przybeszewski) has come to Paris ; it is with 
the sole object of killing him by poison. His usual 
seat at his usual cafe is occupied ; he is the victim 
of a universal conspiracy. Eventually the hells of his 
torment burn themselves out in an abject ecstasy of 


atonement, in Catholicism, Swedenborgianism, and 
the bastard hybrid of a scientific occultism. 

From this time the religious obsession sits upon 
most, if not all, of his subsequent work. To this 
mood are due the officially religious dramas To 
Damascus, Midsummer, the extremely weak Advent and 
Easter, his new-found theory of The Conscious Will in 
the World- History, his historical dramas (where the 
characters, particularly Luther, were too subjectively 
conceived to be historically convincing), and his 
Dream-Play (where telephones, lawyers, theatres, 
enchanted woods, Indra's daughter, military officers, 
married couples, casinos, poets, and ballet-dancers 
all combine to weave the filmy phantasmagoria 
of a Buddhistic reality). We may also mention in 
this connection the Blue Books, the official synthesis 
of his life (a series of miniature essays on such 
apparently heterogeneous subjects as, inter alia, Troy, 
Christ, electro-chemistry, botany, surds, Assyriology, 
optics, geology, Hammurabi, astrology, morphium, 
Swedenborgianism, spermatozoic analysis, mystic 
numbers, Kipling, and Jehovah). 

Although, speaking generally, Strindberg achieved 
his masterpieces during the period of his atheism, 
many of his later works have indisputable value. The 
play Intoxication (1900), for instance (though the killing 
through sheer unconscious force of will, by the hero, 
of the child of one mistress, in order to gratify the 
caprice of another, may strike the unimaginative 
critic as slightly melodramatic, and his eventual retire- 
ment into a Catholic monastery as somewhat of an 
anti-climax), is a work of extraordinary power. 

So also is the Death Dance (1900), in which the 
middle-aged captain and his passe'e wife grind each 
other to ruin and despair beneath the mutual mill- 
stones of their hate, " that most unreasonable hate, 


without ground, without object, but also without end." 
Does not the author plumb the extreme depths of 
human malevolence in the passage in which the wife 
in company with her cousin is expecting her paralytic 
husband to fall down dead ? 

Karl. What are you looking at over there, dear, by the wall? 

Alice. I'm seeing if he's tumbled down. 

Karl. Has he tumbled down ? 

Alice. No, more's the pity. He deceives me in everything. 

We would also mention the Maeterlinckian beauty 
of the Crown Bride and Swan White (1900), the 
heroine of which is an idealisation of the author's 
third wife, the actress, Harriet Bosse ; the delicate 
fantasy of Tales (1908) ; and the Swedish Miniatures, 
of which the Sacrifice Dance in particular is a positive 
masterpiece of swift bloodiness. 

Cruelty, moreover, is an integral element in at any 
rate primitive religion. This may conceivably explain 
why, faithfully fulfilling what he personally professed 
to have found a joyless duty, Strindberg successfully 
performed in Black Flags, his celebrated roman a clef, 
the intellectual flaying and dismemberment of all 
Stockholm Bohemia. It is amusing to remember 
that he successfully consulted the oracle of the Book of 
Job before he published the work in 1905, to face the 
protesting shrieks of his victims with all the devout 
conscience of some early priest of Thor who gravely 
officiates at some blood-stained human sacrifice. 

It is outside the purpose of this essay to discuss 
whether these descriptions of the intellectual and 
sexual clique of the Swedish capital constitute a fair 
portrait or a monstrous defamation, or whether, for 
instance, Hanna Paj is a malignant travesty or a 
euphemistic delineation of that lady whom all who 
have the slightest acquaintance with the Continental 
Feminist Movement will immediately recognise. 


As a sheer piece of satire the book waves its 
black flag unchallenged amid all the fluttering multi- 
coloured pennons of modern European literature. 
What matter if the characterisation be true or false ? 
So far, at any rate, as the non-Swedish reader is 
concerned, the illusion is complete. Kilo, "the 
little bookseller, with the suffering eyes of a sick 
dog " ; Falkenstrom, the idealist, whose wife is 
induced by her bosom friend to join some alleged 
monstrous cosmopolitan masonic sisterhood ; Hanna 
Paj, the feminist lecturer, the fury with the flag of 
hate on which was written the device, " Revenge on 
Man " ; Smartman, the debonair intriguing editor 
with his two sets of rooms all these pictures of M the 
galley-slaves of ambition linked together in the 
fetters of interest, these murderers and thieves who 
steal each other's thoughts, addresses, friends, and 
personalities," are perfectly convincing. Above all 
there stands out the delineation of Lars Peter 
Zachrisson, " the intellectual cannibal," the " broker 
of literature, the promoter of mutual admiration 
societies, the speculator in reputations, the founder 
of syndicates for the manufacture of celebrities," 
the morphia maniac,: the tippler " who laughs 
humorously in his moustache and weeps tears of 
whisky from his eyes," the father of " that resurrected 
corpse, that wandering shame, whose face was known 
to all, and who was branded with his own name." 
And how devilish is the description of this domestic 
hell of human hate, where he mocks his wife on her 
failing charms and encourages her gluttony with the 
specific object of spoiling her figure, where the 
mother in her turn brings up her children like a 
breed of dachshunds whom she sets to bait their 
father, and where the two spouses yet feel some 
inexplicable need of being together in the same 


room for the purpose of that mutual nagging and 
mutual reviling which constituted the chief interest 
in their miserable existence. 

To sum up, we have seen how throughout his life 
the persecution mania of Strindberg expressed itself 
in his attitude to sex, religion, and society, as like at 
once some veritable Rhadamanthine recorder, and 
some cowering victim of divine vengeance, he dis- 
penses and fears those words of doom in his black 
adamant of diction. Yet it is impossible casually to 
brush the man aside as some mere paranoiac. The 
very torments of his soul fructified in the stupendous 
genius of his intellectual production. With all his 
perversities, with all his aberrations, Strindberg 
remains the blackest, and in his own particular 
spheres the most drastic, intelligence in the whole 
of our European literature. 



" By my faith I would as soon listen to the gabbling of geese in a 
farmyard as to the silly glibness of such inflated twaddling, such mawkish 
sentiment, such turgid garrulity, such ranting verbosity." 

" Clearness of thought, brilliancy of style, beauty of diction, all these 
were hers united to consummate ease of expression and artistic skill." 

The above quotations, extracted from Ardath and 
from the autobiographical if unofficial description of 
Mavis Clair in The Sorrows of Satan, are well adapted 
to express the two extreme views concerning the 
merits and the demerits of the lady who, rightly or 
wrongly, certainly occupies the most conspicuous 
position among our English women-novelists. It is 
not surprising that such divergent views should be 
provoked by a character who, however simple she 
may be in her own personal psychology, is from the 
literary standpoint essentially complex. 

In The Romance of Two Worlds, for instance, the 
firstfruits of her literary genius, the novelist's theory 
of the " Soul Germ " and her conception of the 
u Electric Principle of Christianity " running through 
the whole cosmology would seem unmistakably to 
foreshadow the Bergsonian theory of the elan de vie, 
while the subtly delineated character of the twentieth- 
century Chaldaean magician, Heliobas, " who never 
promises to effect a cure unless he sees that the 
person who comes to be cured has a certain con- 
nection with himself," bears a distinct analogy to 
the cabalistic mysticism of Mr. Aleister Crowley. 

On the other hand, that grim tragedy entitled Ven- 



detta is in almost equal degrees reminiscent of the 
stark inexorableness of ^Eschylus, and of the human, 
all-too-human, humanity of Mr. Walter Melville. 
In Ardath, that "tale of beauty, of horror, and of 
extraordinary amours" (if we may quote from the 
authorised biography of our novelist), a subject-matter 
that might well have emanated from the pen of a 
Pierre Louys, is handled with the unimpeachable 
correctness of a Samuel Smiles. So, too, the great 
Tendenzroman " Wormwood " is a dexterous combina- 
tion of the macabre phantasy of Mr. Ranger Gull and 
the ethical "uplift" of Mr. Guy Thorne. She is, 
moreover, an authoress who is keenly alive to the 
social problems of the day, treating in Boy and The 
Mighty Atom of the Wedekindian problem of the influ- 
ence of free-thought on the mind of puberty (though 
it must be confessed that her solution of that exceed- 
ingly thorny problem is by no means identical with 
that of the slightly cynical author of Springs Awaken- 
ing), and handling in The Murder of Delicia the almost 
equally delicate subject of the modern maquereau. 

While, too, Miss Corelli has enriched the literature 
of Anti-Semitism with such novel and crushing 
phrases as " Jew-speculator," "Jew-proprietor of a 
stock-jobbing newspaper," " the fat Jew-spider of 
several newspaper webs," her denunciation of certain 
phases of Continental Christianity as u the sickening 
and barbarous superstition everywhere offered as the 
representation of sublime Deity " indicates some 
cleavage between her own Protestant theology and 
that rigid Ultramontanism which would appear now- 
adays to be one of the essential qualifications for 
the really full-fledged Anti-Semite. And if at times 
with the thyrsus of her ecstatic style she is frequently 
the Juvenalian flagellant of that u brilliant fashion- 
able dress-loving crowd of women who spend most 


of their time in caring for their complexions and 
counting their lovers," her features exhibit not so 
much the sadic grin of the maenad as the seraphic 
loving-kindness of some mediaeval saint dumped 
down by a caprice of a fantastic Providence amid all 
the howling welter of the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. While too such phrases as " retrospec- 
tive and introspective repentance " show an almost 
Jamesian preciosity in the fine-drawn distinction 
between the repentance for the sins that have been 
already committed in the past and for those which 
are about to be committed in the future, and between 
the repentance which takes place within the four 
corners of the human soul, and that which occurs 
within some other sphere of psychological activity, 
our lady's entire lack, generally speaking, of all the 
affectations of our ultra-modern subtlety are more 
reminiscent of the downright horse-sense of President 
Roosevelt or the transparent but by no means 
necessarily shallow simplicity of such writers as Mrs. 
L. T. Meade, Mrs. Annie Swan, Mr. Charles Garvice, 
and Mr. William Le Queux. 

It is then in view of the fundamentally complex 
problem constituted by Miss Corelli that, disregard- 
ing alike the convention of her admirers that she 
is above criticism, and the convention of her detrac- 
tors that she is beneath it, we propose to examine 
our authoress with the maximum of seriousness at 
our command, and to await with sanguine interest 
the result of what from the point of view at any rate 
of the critic is so revolutionary a procedure. The 
contents of at any rate the majority of the volumes 
of Miss Corelli being necessarily familiar to all 
readers of culture, we propose to confine our analysis 
to a survey of the cardinal points in our lady's 
Weltanschauung. Strange though it may seem to u the 


fashionable atheism of the day " (if we may quote 
one of our authoress's favourite and most persistent 
phrases), it is the religious instinct which supplies the 
key of the Corellian psychology. In this connec- 
tion it is interesting to remember parenthetically the 
pretty anecdote of how when the future novelist, then 
quite a little girl, was rejoicing in the sobriquet of 
" The Rosebud," she would always have the nocturnal 
consciousness that angels were present in her bed- 
room, and that Dr. Mackay, the mid-Victorian litte- 
rateur who had adopted the child at the early age of 
three months, is reported to have made the gentle 
but not inapposite remark, " Never mind, Dearie ! 
It is there, you may be sure, and if you behave just as 
if you saw it, you will certainly see it some day." 

It was perhaps a few years later that the little girl 
dreamt of founding a new religious order, and that 
an education at a French convent left on her virgin 
soul that white cachet which even the corruptness of 
Edwardian society, "when the infidelity of wives is 
most unhappily becoming common far too common 
for the peace and good repute of society," has 
signally failed to in any way pollute (if as a mere 
matter of grammatical conviviality we may venture to 
split an infinitive with our distinguished consaur). 
When, however, Miss Corelli attained the ripeness of 
complete womanhood, the voice of the angels would 
appear to have whispered in her ear the great in- 
junction " to leave the world a little better than she 
found it," and the sacred odour of her exceedingly 
important mission is to be detected practically in 
every work that has issued from her pen. Hold- 
ing, like Torquemada, Mr. Torrie, Attila, Loyola, and 
the late Dr. Elijah Dowie and many other great 
religious enthusiasts of all epochs, that conversion is 
the most efficient method of spiritual improvement, 


she concentrates her fire with especial vehemence on 
the " women-atheists, who had voluntarily crushed out 
the sweetness of the sex within them, the unnatural 
product of an unnatural age," who have ll as haughty 
a scorn of Christ and His teaching as any unbeliev- 
ing Jew," and on " the common boor who, reading his 
penny Radical paper, thinks he can dispense with 
God and talks of the carpenter's son of Judaea with 
the same easy flippancy and scant reverence as his 
companion in sin." 

Thus it comes that Miss Corelli, with her full share 
of that intolerance which is the classical concomitant 
of all true religion, would close the harbour of Eng- 
land to the exiled Jesuits of France, and exclude the 
Jews from their prominent position in contemporary 
society and finance. So far from shedding a single 
tear over the tragic death of Zola, she gloats with 
righteous gusto over his asphyxiation, which she 
ascribes to a specific piece of theological revengeful- 
ness on the part of an orthodox and insulted Provi- 
dence. At times her strictures come nearer home, 
and more frequently perhaps than any other woman- 
novelist of the day does she castigate those Episco- 
palian clergymen who indulge in the mental and 
physical enjoyment of illicit sex in wilful disregard of 
the most fundamental elements of their professional 
etiquette, "the vicious and worldly clerical bon- 
vivants . . . talking society scandal with as much 
easy glibness as any dissolute lay decadent that ever 
cozened another man's wife away from honour in the 
tricky disguise of a soul." In Thelma, for instance, the 
lascivious minister of Christ intent on compassing the 
almost compulsory seduction of the prettiest of his own 
parishioners, while his u conscience was enveloped 
in a moral leather casing of hypocrisy and arro- 
gance," is a piece of characterisation which in its own 


particular line of vice forms a fitting analogue to the 
monstrous clergyman in Mrs. Voynich's Jack Raymond. 
So far, moreover, as the nuances of dogma are con- 
cerned our teacher takes the delicate and middle 
course, being as deeply shocked by the ritualistic 
excesses of the High Church as by what Mr. G. K. 
Chesterton has epigrammatically described as the 
" tea-leaves of Nonconformity." In fact her theology 
may perhaps be crystallised in the following formula, 
which however difficult in actual practice is from the 
stylistic standpoint of perfect simplicity : 

"Why should we be followers of Luther, Wesley, or any other 
human teacher or preacher when all that is necessary is that we 
should be followers of Christ ? " 

But Miss Corelli is no credulous bigot. She is as 
sceptical of the historical trustworthiness of part of the 
initial chapters of Genesis as Colonel Ingersoll, Mr. 
G. W. Foote, or Mr. Horatio Bottomley. Let us quote 
from Free Opinions the following eloquent parenthesis : 
" A legend, which, like that of the Tree of Good and 
Evil itself requires stronger confirmation than history 
as yet witnesseth, which, by the way, was evidently 
invented by man himself for his own convenience." 

Let us, however, now turn from Miss Corelli's 
solitary excursion into the sphere of the Higher 
Criticism to some brief survey of her more positive 
and constructive philosophy. 

The Corellian cosmology is most fully expounded 
in The Romance of Two Worlds. This novel is the story 
of a young girl who, sick in body and mind, visits the 
Continent. She makes the acquaintance of a Chaldaean 
mage of magnetic personality called Heliobas. Helio- 
bas, realising at the first sight of the young girl " that 
her state of health precludes her from the enjoyment 
of life natural to her sex and age," gives her to drink 
of some rare and special potion with the result that 


her soul, dissociated for the time being from her body, 
takes a flying trip through space and purgatory, and the 
lady awakens to a more complete spiritual harmony. 
In this book the authoress's individual theories of the 
Soul Germ and the Electric Circle are expressed in volu- 
minous digressions and dialogues whose inexhaustible 
opulence might well be called a Platonic Dialectic 
brought up to the date of nineteenth-century science. 

This fusion of science and mysticism, which at first 
sight seem as far apart as the poles or the sexes, into 
a harmonious if heterogeneous unity, can also be 
traced in the Corellian physiology. Thus in Thelma 
we meet the unfortunate creature Sigurd, " an infant 
abortion, the evil fruit of an evil deed," destined to so 
tragic and well-described a death, while in Temporal 
Power we are confronted with the strange character 
of Paul Zouche, "the human eccentricity, the result 
of an amour between a fiend and an angel." 

In the sphere of ethics, Miss Corelli is careful to 
avoid that misplaced originality which is so often the 
gaudy masquerade for a pallid and degenerate licenti- 
ousness. Our authoress finds sufficient both for her 
own personal requirements and the spiritual health of 
her reader in those good old maxims enshrined in the 
Bible, the Family Herald, and the copy-books of all self- 
respecting seminaries. Good is Good, she says, and 
Right is Right. We may note also the Corellian 
principle of the inevitable triumph of the hero or 
heroine and the inevitable damnation of the villain or 
villainess, a principle which bears a distinct affinity to 
the Jewish and Christian doctrines of Recompense, 
the ^Eschylean doctrine of i/e/xecr*?, and the dramaturgy 
of the Transpontine Theatre. It may perhaps be 
urged by the ultra-modern critic that novels of the 
stamp of Anne Veronica, The New Machiavelli, or Esther 
Waters, where sin emerges from its slough, sometimes 


in triumph, yet always in dignity and comfort, have 
a closer correspondence with the actual facts of our 
modern civilisation. But our authoress would no 
doubt confidently retort that it is the pious duty of the 
moral missionary to censor ruthlessly such pernicious 
intelligence, and that she is proud to prefer the higher 
if not always accepted truths of ethics to the lower and 
degrading truths of a sordid reality. 

This sublime principle of Divine Justice is per- 
haps best exemplified in Holy Orders. In this extra- 
ordinary book, Jacqueline, the local prostitute of a 
picturesque English village, marries a man named 
Nordheim, " one of the smartest Jew-millionaires that 
ever played with the money-markets of the world." 
But the wages of sin, though for a few years a motor 
car and a Rockefellerian income, turn out in the 
long run to be death in a balloon in the illicit com- 
pany of an aristocratic drunkard. For sheer psy- 
chology and for sheer English the following portrayal 
of the villain which represents the cream of two or 
three separate passages merits quotation. 

" Claude Ferrers ? Why, he is a famous aeronaut ; a man who 
spends fabulous sums of money in the construction of balloons and 
aeroplanes and airships. He is the owner of a gorgeous steerable 
balloon in which all the pretty 'smart' women take trips with him 
for change of air. He is an atheist, a degenerate, and one of the 
most popular ' Souls ' in decadent English society just to have a 
look at the fat smooth-faced sensualist and voluptuary whose reputa- 
tion for shameless vice makes him the pride and joy of Upper- 
Ten Jezebels will help you along like a gale of wind. Claude 
Ferrers is a modern Heliogabalus in his very modern way, and by 
dint of learning a few salacious witticisms out of Moliere and Baude- 
laire he almost persuades people to think him a wit and a poet." 

In view, no doubt, of the high moral tendency of 
most of the comedies of Moliere, who in Tartuffe, 
for instance, satirises hypocrisy almost as effectively, 
if with a less palpable directness than does Miss 


Corelli herself, and in view of the essentially religi- 
ous or at any rate mystical spirit that animates so 
many of the poems of the author of Les Fleurs de Mai, 
it must be reluctantly confessed that Miss Corelli is 
more impressive as a moralist and as a psychologist 
than as a woman of letters and an expert in French 
literature. It is possible, however, that this slight 
error may be explained by the fact that her acquain- 
tance with these authors may only be second-hand, 
that she was involuntarily misled by the rhyme in 
the two names, and that her unimpeachable principles 
have debarred her from even hearing the names of 
such refined exponents of the Gallic spirit as M. Abel 
Hermant and M. Octave Mirabeau. 

It is, of course, highly characteristic of our 
authoress's simplicity of vision that all her characters 
are either very, very, very good or very, very, very bad. 
Realising that complexity of temperament is but too 
frequently the mere euphemism for dissoluteness of 
life, she is content that her young heroes should be 
immaculate with all the immaculacy of the jeunc 
premier, that her middle-aged heroes should be those 
strong silent men who have contributed so largely to 
make England what she is, and that her heroines 
should be all equally typical and equally sweet 
flowers of our English womanhood. Her villains 
invariably smile with all the depraved and diabolical 
cynicism of Drury Lane, and her villainesses are 
branded as degenerate super- women of intrigue and 
lust. And if the authoress by thus delineating her 
characters in the two primary colours of black and 
white thus denies herself the intellectual pleasure 
of minutely analysing some ultra-modern soul torn 
a myriad ways by unnumbered and unmentionable 
emotions, she has the consolation that she certainly 
points her moral with a more obvious precision. 


The only character who in any way suffers from 
a complex temperament is Maryllia, the sweet-named 
heroine of God's Good Man. By nature as white 
and pure a specimen of Anglo-Saxon girlhood as 
ever spent to some good moral purpose her fragrance 
in the pages of the prettiest novelette, Maryllia is so 
corrupted by the fashionable whirl of smart society, 
"where without mincing matters it can be fairly 
stated that the aristocratic Jezebel is the fashionable 
woman of the hour, while the men vie with one 
another as to who shall best screen her from their 
amours with themselves," that she becomes addicted 
to the vice of smoking. God's Good Man, however, 
in the person of that high-minded clergyman the 
Rev. John Walden, has the courage to rebuke her at 
a dinner-party with an incivility which is, fortunately, 
more than counterbalanced by the fundamental kind- 
ness of his intention : 

" I have always been under the impression that English ladies 
never smoke." 

Maryllia, it is true, at first bridles at this essentially 
well-meant reprimand, only, however, to return finally 
repentant and converted to her prospective husband. 

It is, consequently, not surprising to find that 
Miss Corelli's attitude to modern problems is one of 
a rugged and uncompromising conservatism. Thus 
she disapproves not merely of smoking but also of 
the bridge-party and the motor-car and of the 
dtcollete dress which she so severely satirises in the 
phrase, u the brief shoulder-strap called by courtesy a 
sleeve which keeps her ladyship's bodice in place." 

Consistently enough, also, in the sphereof philosophy 
she chaffs the agnostic dilettantism of Mr. Balfour 
with the most delicate of badinage : " His study of these 
volumes is almost as profound as that of Mr. Balfour 
must have been when writing The Foundations of Belief " 


and flicks with a deadly though gentle irony the " sort 
of cliquey reputation and public failure attending a 
certain novel entitled Marius the Epicurean." 

True Englishwoman that she is, Miss Corelli yields 
to none in her reverence for established institutions, 
and does not shrink from attacking boldly the com- 
plex questions of contemporary royal and political 
life. Thus, in the 600-page romance, Temporal 
Power, apparently disapproving of that democratic 
shuffling of the classes which is so marked a feature 
of our ultra-modern age, she treats with exquisite taste 
of the problems of the sinister Semitic capitalist, the 
intriguing politician who was once a manufacturer, 
and of the morganatic marriage of a sailor-prince. 

For our authoress has at bottom a true respect 
for the social order of England. What though the 
monarch masquerade as an anarchist in Temporal 
Power and sign his name in the red letters of a 
woman's blood ? Does not the repeated insistence 
on the title " Sir Philip," in referring to the virile 
and delectable hero of Thelma, show that it is less 
society per se than the abuses and perversions of 
society which constitute the target of the Corellian 
invective ? Does not again the following passage 
show the bias of a soul which inclines with the sin- 
cerest sympathy to that innate munificence which 
forms the chief petal in the "fine flower" of the 
English gentry : " They got their overcoats from the 
officious Briggs, tipped him handsomely, and departed 
arm in arm ? " Does not similarly such a phrase as 
u a dignified grande dame clad in richest black silk " 
show that most generous of loyalties which will not 
allow the true majesty of the aristocracy to be im- 
perilled through the stinting of an extra adjective or 
the lack of a superlatively appropriate dress. 

Unfortunately many passages in Miss Corelli's 


novels may occasion her admirers some heart-search- 
ings as to the reliability of her social psychology. In 
such a sentence, for instance, as " Why does an 
English earl marry a music-hall singer ? Because 
he has seen her in tights," it would appear that the 
real heart of the matter is tactfully adumbrated 
rather than specifically described. When again that 
lecherous Jew, David Jost, the chief villain in Temporal 
Power, is sitting at home in his study a few minutes 
before midnight, after he had already " supped in 
private with two or three painted heroines of the foot- 
lights," does not our authoress attribute to the horrible 
Hebrew a capacity for concentrating an amount of 
pleasure into a brief period, more consistent with 
the powers of some hustling and record-breaking 
American than with the more protracted languors of the 
Oriental ? Similarly, when she writes that "the public 
are getting sick of having the discarded mistresses of 
wealthy Semites put forward for their delectation in 
'leading' histrionic parts," Miss Corelli is either invert- 
ing the more natural and logical order of events, or 
is attributing to such isolated members of the Jewish 
race as happen to be licentious a retrospective gener- 
osity in respect of past kindness which however 
gratifying to their co-religionists seems somewhat 
inconsistent with the general trend of her attitude. 

The Corellian dialogue also frequently gives 
the psychologist food for thought. " O God " 
(cried impetuously the heroine of Thelma after 
she had listened virtuously to the illicit overtures 
of the villain, a " lascivious dandy and disciple of 
no creed and self-worship "), a magnificent glory 
of disdain flashing in her jewel-like eyes, u what 
thing is this that calls itself a man this thief of 
honour this pretended friend of me, the wife 
of the noblest gentleman in the land ! " 


Or take again so characteristic a specimen as 
the following : 

" You will be made the subject for the coarse jests of witticisms 
at your expense your dearest friends will tear your name to 
shreds the newspapers will reek of your doings, and honest 
housemaids reading of your fall from your high estate will thank 
God that their souls and bodies are more clean than yours." 

If, however, Miss Corelli disdains the more gramo- 
phonic accuracy of Mrs. Humphry Ward, she is 
none the less perfectly entitled to answer that her 
characters like those of Mr. G. Bernard Shaw, being 
something more than mere mechanical and objective 
copies of humanity, subserve the far higher function 
of being the mouthpieces of the subjective philosophy 
of their creator. 

Our last quotation, however, brings us to the 
burning question of Miss Corelli's attitude towards 
the sexual problem. In this connection it will not 
be without its interest to draw some slight analogy 
between Miss Corelli and her equally distinguished if 
not equally popular sister-in-letters, Mrs. Elinor Glyn. 

We would remark in the first place that the sexual 
problem clutches Miss Corelli hotly in its drastic 
grip. Her religious temperament may no doubt 
occasion a profound and genuine abhorrence for 
physical sin, but as was the case with the even more 
religious Tolstoi, or that strangely interesting char- 
acter Elfrida (the ethical sexual reformer in Herr 
Frank Wedekind's Totentanz), her abhorrence merely 
supplies an added vehemence to the unflinching 
nature of her treatment and the drastic audacities 
of her missionary work, while the proud conscious- 
ness of her own personal virtue may conceivably 
entitle her to find at once a duty and a recompense 
in the sanguinary flagellation of her less immaculate 
sisters. Though, moreover, a moral teacher, Miss 


Corelli is also a psychologist, and her aphorism 
" Men never fall in love with a woman's mind, only 
with her body," can be well compared for its bold 
but delicate cynicism with Mrs. Glyn's maxim, 
" Love is a purely physical emotion." 

But Miss Corelli with all her unimpeachable 
correctness is by no means blind to the tempera- 
mental significance of a grande passion, though of 
course she does not specialise on this subject to 
the same extent as her distinguished colleague. It 
is none the less instructive to compare Miss Corelli's 
saving grace of a grande passion, u the one of those 
faithful passions which sometimes make the greatness 
of both man and woman concerned and adorn the 
pages of history with the brilliancy of deathless 
romance," with the following fine passage from Mrs. 
Glyn in which she admonishes those philistine readers 
** who have no eye to see God's world with the 
stars in it and to whom Three Weeks will be but 
the sensual record of a passion " with a dignified 
apologia for the life of her heroine " Now some 
of you who read will think her death was just, in 
that she was not a moral woman, but others will 
hold with Paul that she was the noblest lady who 
ever wore a crown." 

The latter quotation, however, brings us to an 
important distinction in the sexual ethics of our 
two novelists. For while Miss Corelli on the one 
hand is no respecter of persons and would be pre- 
pared to treat an " Upper-Ten Jezebel " or a " soiled 
dove of the town " (if we may borrow two typically 
Corellian phrases) with scrupulous impartiality ac- 
cording to their respective deserts, the novels of 
Mrs. Elinor Glyn constitute a valuable sexual hier- 
archy by which the degree of license to be enjoyed 
and condoned is in direct proportion to the social 


rank of the lady or her paramour. Thus the con- 
tinued adultery on the part of the Princess through- 
out a period of three weeks in the novel of that 
name is freed from any taint of offensiveness or 
indignity by the exalted rank of that royal personage 
who is decorated in this one book with several sets 
of stars. The ordinary untitled gentlewoman, how- 
ever (if we except Agnes the lady in Elizabeth's Visits to 
America, who "had an affair with her chauffeur," 
and the Mildred in Beyond the Rocks, whose lovers, 
however, were "so well chosen and so thoroughly 
of the right sort "), though she may frequently infringe 
the spirit of the seventh commandment, is usually 
far too prudent to break the letter. Thus the 
romantic young wife in Beyond the Rocks, in spite of the 
assiduous attentions of an extremely fascinating peer, 
" an ordinary Englishman of the world who had 
lived and loved and seen many lands," succeeds by 
the most heroic self-control in preserving the techni- 
cal chastity of a Prevostian demi-vierge. Note, how- 
ever, by way of contrast the extremely wide margin 
which is allowed to the hale and energetic duchess : 
" Her path was strewn with lovers and protected 
by a proud and complacent husband who had realised 
early he never would be master of the situation and 
had preferred peace to open scandal. She was a 
woman of sixty and, report said, still had her lapses." 
But the paramount importance of social etiquette 
in sexual relationship is most effectively illustrated 
in His Hour. This novel deals with the mutual physi- 
cal passion between a barbaric and dissolute Russian 
prince and a typical and refined modern English- 
woman. Matters reach a crisis when the prince 
lures the lady by night to the sinister solitude of a 
deserted hut. " His splendid eyes blazed with the 
passion of a wild beast " ; the lady faints, and when 


she wakes up in the morning of course assumes that 
she has been ravished. Not unnaturally she is quite 
upset that she should have been the victim of such 
insulting behaviour, " she, a lady, a proud English 
lady." The commands of society, however, are in- 
exorable in such matters and she consequently writes 
proposing marriage with dignified irony to that bestial 
nobleman, who had, according to her own theory, 
put her own status as a gentlewoman into such 
delicate jeopardy : " I consent I have no choice 
I consent. Yours truly, Tamara Lorane." 

So far as mere erotic description and dialogue is 
concerned, there is very little to choose between our 
authoresses. The following passages are fair examples 
of Mrs. Glyn's conception of romantic love-making : 

"Then, sweet Paul, I shall teach you many things, and among 
them I shall teach you how to live." 

" Beloved, beloved," he cried, let us waste no more precious 
moments. I want you, I want you, my sweet." 

" My darling one," the lady whispered in his ear, as she lay in 
his arms on the couch of roses, crushed deep and half-buried in 
their velvet leaves, " this is our soul's wedding, in life and in death 
they can never part us more." 


If, however, we would make any distinction between 
the respective techniques of the two ladies, we would 
say that while Mrs. Glyn tends to exhibit the practical 
modernity of Mayfair or Continental society, Miss 
Corelli is at times more exotic and luxuriant, at times 
more explicit and direct, for blunt, plain woman that 
she is, she never even once dabbles in those mystic 
messages of the stars which Mrs. Glyn interprets with 
so facile and consummate a felicity. We search in 
vain,for instance, in the works of Mrs.Elinor Glyn for a 
passage like the following, which but for the pendent 
nominative might quite well have come out of the 



Aphrodite of M. Pierre Louys or the Mafarka le Futur- 
iste of M. Marinetti : 

" This done, they rose and began to undo the fastenings of her 
golden domino-like garment ; but either they were too slow, or the 
fair priestess was impatient, for she suddenly shook herself free of 
their hands, and loosening the gorgeous mantle herself from its 
jewelled clasps it fell slowly from her symmetrical form on the 
perfumed floor with a rustle as of fallen leaves." 

Again, the delicious sachets of Mrs. Elinor Glyn's 
diction never somehow exhale such whiffs of unadul- 
terated English as the following : 

" With the seduction of your nude limbs and lying eyes you 
make fools, cowards, and beasts of men." 

We may, perhaps, conclude this portion of our com- 
parative analysis by suggesting for the erotic crest of 
Mrs. Elinor Glyn a Debrett and an Almanach de Gotha 
enveloped in a silk and scented H nightie " ; for that of 
Miss Marie Corelli, a volume of the Self-and-Sex series 
lying open between a doffed domino and a crinoline. 

It is also noticeable that while Miss Corelli, with 
whatever detail she may feel it her duty to portray their 
erotic sins, is always primarily concerned with her 
characters' ethical significance for good or for evil, Mrs. 
Glyn devotes herself more specifically to their physical 
qualifications. Miss Corelli's typical hero, for instance, 
is the Rev. John Walden, that middle-aged God's 
Good Man whose ripe dignity of manhood is subordi- 
nated to the description of his more spiritual qualities. 
Mrs. Glyn's typical hero is the Paul of Three Weeks, u a 
splendid young English animal of the best class." 

We thus find that the space which Mrs. Elinor 
Glyn will devote to telling us that her heroine's skin 
" seemed good to eat," or that her hero had " fine 
lines " and " velvet eyelids," will be devoted by Miss 
Corelli to the description of the corresponding attri- 
butes of her hero or heroine's soul. Miss Corelli, 


however, is by no means obtuse to the baleful effect 
on the spiritual life exercised by physical blandish- 
ments. She will thus explain the precocious cor- 
ruption by senile perversity of a young girl in a 
remarkable passage whose stark realism certainly 
succeeds in portraying fully an important ethical and 
physiological truth 

" Old roues smelling of wine and tobacco were eager to take me 
on their knees and pinch my soft flesh ; they would press my 
innocent lips with their withered ones withered and contaminated 
by the kisses of cocottes and soiled doves of the town." 

As showing the comprehensive ultra-modernity 
of Miss Corelli's outlook on the sexual question, we 
would refer finally to her frequent allusions to " the 
unnatural and strutting embryos of a new sex which 
will be neither male nor female." Though, however, 
she is in one of her maxims apparently of opinion 
that " true beauty is sexless," we would infer from 
the following passages that she does not go so far as 
Peladan in ascribing an important ethical and socio- 
logical significance to this new type : 

" Men's hearts are not enthralled or captured by a something 
appearing to be neither man nor woman. And there are a great 
many of these Somethings about just now. . . . Beauty remains 
intrinsically where it was first born and first admitted into the 
annals of Art and Literature. Its home is still in the Isles of 
Greece where burning Sappho loved and sang." 

Returning, however, from Lesbos to Stratford-on- 
Avon, let us make some brief survey of Miss Corelli's 
style. To condense into a few phrases so delicate 
and baffling a phenomenon is difficult. At one moment 
her weighty nouns, guarded not infrequently by a 
triple escort of epithets, possess the pomp and luxuri- 
ance of the true Asiatic style, at another the brisk 
horsiness of her diction has all the spontaneous force 
of English as it is actually spoken. At times such 
passages as " A moisture as of tears glistened on the 


silky fringe of his eyelids his lips quivered he had 
the look of a Narcissus regretfully bewailing his own 
perishable loveliness. On a swift impulse of affection 
Theos threw one arm round his neck in the fashion 
of a confiding schoolboy walking with his favourite 
companion. . . . Sah-luma looked up with a pleased 
yet wondering glance. ' Thou hast a silvery and 
persuasive tongue/ he said gently," are reminiscent of 
the mellifluous cadences of Dorian Gray. Anon she 
will indulge in a vein of frank but militant sim- 
plicity that bears a greater resemblance to the style 
of Mr. Robert Blatchford, the celebrated atheist : 

" A small private dinner-party at which the company are some 
six or eight persons at most is sometimes (though not by any 
means always) quite a pleasant affair ; but a ' big ' dinner in the 
' big ' sense of the word is generally the most painful and dismal of 
functions except to those for whom silent gorging and after-reple- 
tion are the essence of all mental and physical joys. I remember 
and of a truth it would be impossible to forget one of those 
dinners which took place one season at a very ' swagger ' house 
the house of a member of the old British nobility, whose ancestors 
and titles always excite a gentle flow of saliva in the mouths of 

We would incidentally mention that Miss Corelli is 
above all a purist in her diction, and that she has 
registered her emphatic protest against the use of the 
expression " Little Mary," " a phrase which, although 
invented by Mr. J. M. Barrie, is not without consider- 
able vulgarity and offence." Though, moreover, her 
language is on the whole essentially English, Miss 
Corelli by no means disdains the use of classical 
figures. For instance in the phrase " after-repletion " 
from our last quotation we meet an interesting sur- 
vival of the Greek use of a preposition to qualify a 
noun. The occasional anacoluthon also (or lack of 
orthodox syntax) which is found in her works points 
to a by no means unprofitable study of Thucydides, 


unless indeed it is simply in order to emphasize her 
lack of any literary snobbery that our authoress so 
frequently declines to curtsey to the affected rigidi- 
ties of pedantic grammar. Her frequent use, again, 
of compound words such as " socially-popular," 
"brilliantly-appointed," "Jew-spider" betrays the 
distinct influence of the Teutonic idiom, while such a 
phrase as " braced with the golden shield of Courage " 
shows what unique results can be obtained by a 
metaphor simultaneously fashioned out of the defen- 
sive article of war of the ancient Spartan and the pre- 
servative article of attire of the modern European. 

Finally, what is the real secret of Miss Corelli's 
success ? It is that she is sincere and that she 
means well. Whether her invective rises to the lofty 
scorn of an Isaiah, a Mrs. Ormiston Chant, or a 
Juvenal, or whether the smooth current of her hate 
meanders along with all the tepid benevolence of a 
grandmotherly facetiousness, it is impossible to doubt 
her portentous sincerity. It is this quality which 
distinguishes her most effectively from the merely 
journalistic authors of the "big" serials. These 
ladies and gentlemen, it is true, effect their object 
and succeed in presenting the outlook on life of the 
typical man or woman in the typical street or alley. 
But their most brilliant productions but produce the 
effect of an intellectual tour de force, as though 
achieved in despite of the natural bias of their 
temperaments, by dint of a diligent study of the 
well-known Manual of Serialese. Miss Marie 
Corelli needs no such manual. Her Weltanschauung, 
broad, plain, simple, touched at once with a high 
consciousness of her ethical mission and a ruthless 
observation for all the sins and follies of the age, is 
the authentic and spontaneous outcome of her own 
unique psychology. 


" Alike in the comedies and dream-plays too 
You see but a domesticated Zoo, 
Their blood so thin that in that hot-house air 
They batten on a vegetable fare, 
And revel chronically in chat and calls, 
Sitting like our friends yonder in the stalls, 
One's stomach of liqueurs will disapprove, 
Another wonders if he really love, 
Another hero starts with threats to pass 
From this foul world to one perhaps more divine, 
But through five mortal acts behold him whine, 
Yet no kind friend supplies the coup de grdce. 
But the real thing, the wild and beauteous beast, 
I, ladies, only I provide that feast" 

These lines, delivered by a lion-tamer in the due 
professional panoply of riding-coat, top-boots, and a 
revolver, are extracted from the prologue of Frank 
Wedekind's tragedy, Die Erdgeist, and illustrate 
efficiently the bizarre and Mephistophelian genius of 
a German dramatist alike in his qualities and his 
defects indisputably unique. Buccaneering no small 
way in front of the very left wing of the aesthetic 
movement, Wedekind is at once the bete noire of the 
reactionaries and the spoilt darling of the ultra- 
moderns. To his enemies he is a mere shoddy Anti- 
Christ, to his friends a dramatic Messiah leading back 
the inner circles of the chosen intellects into the 
promised land of vice and crime. It cannot be 
denied that his subject-matter gives considerable 
colour to both these theories. Life, as seen through 
the medium of his plays, is but a torrent of sex 



foaming over the jagged rocks of crime and insanity. 
Take examples from his three most powerful plays. 
In Die Erdgeist, the theme of which is the baleful 
glamour of the u Evil Woman," three of the four 
acts are punctuated with almost complete regularity 
by a death ; Fruhiingserwachen, again, deals with 
hoydens and hobbledehoys, whose only occupation 
appears to be the creation, discussion, and destruction 
of life : In Die Totentanz, on the other hand, the 
scene is laid in a " private hotel " (if one may borrow 
the highly convenient euphemism of Mr. Shaw), while 
a charming interlude in lyrics is provided by one of 
the boarders and a temporary visitor, and the hero 
and proprietor is a " marquis," who psychologically 
is much more closely related to Hamlet than to Sir 
George Crofts. Add to this choice of subject-matter 
a violently impressionist technique and a hangman 
humour, whose grin is at its broadest amid the 
sharpest agonies of the victims, and one can form 
an approximately accurate idea of an author, conceiv- 
ably somewhat poisonous to anaemic constitutions, 
but certainly both piquant and stimulating to the 
hardened and the adventurous. To arrive, however, 
at a correct appreciation of so monstrous a phe- 
nomenon, it will be advisable to investigate first 
the literary and social tendencies by which it has 
been produced, together with the character of the 
audience for whose edification it disports itself, and 
then by the light of such investigations to proceed 
to an analysis of his individual works. 

For the ten or fifteen years following 1880, both 
the novel and the drama in Germany were transformed 
into a Zolaesque laboratory, where interesting human 
experiments were conducted by skilled operators with 
scientific precision. There were three chief causes for 
this : firstly, a healthy reaction against the colour- 


less and conventional school which had held the stage 
for so many years, a school somewhat analogous to 
that of our own Mid- Victorians with their strong silent 
men and sweet insipid women ; secondly, a dogmatic 
and uncompromising materialism was the creed of 
the most ambitious and efficient intellects who found 
their chief mental diet in Zola, Taine, Darwin, and 
Haeckel ; thirdly, the abstract theory of the struggle 
for existence had received an excessively concrete 
exemplification in the Franco-German war and the 
colossal commercial impetus that followed in the wake 
of a united Germany. Naturalism, however, was 
destined by the very character of the nation to be 
but a passing phase. Even apart from the inevitable 
swing of the pendulum and the powerful Catholic 
and religious reaction, whose force is seen at a glance 
in the numerical majority of the Centrum, the German 
temperament is in its essence as romantic as the 
French is logical. The nation, moreover, being at bot- 
tom religious, ** the death of God," to use the classic 
phrase of Nietzsche, left a most crying lacuna. The 
philosopher of the Superman adroitly filed the vacancy 
by the deification of Man. Human iife became an 
end in itself embraced with the most poetic exaltation 
and pursued with all the zeal of religious martyrdom. 
The struggle for existence,ceasing to be a bare scientific 
formula, was metamorphosed into a classic arena in 
which the " life-artist " battled for the crown of his 
Dionysiac agonies, finding the mosl delicious music 
in the perpetual clash of brain wiih brain, and ex- 
periencing a sweetness in the very bitterness of the 
conflict. 1 

Crushed then by the force of these tendencies, 
pure realism died. Die Ehre and Die Weber, it is 

1 Cf. the lines of Ricarda Huch to life : M Dean du bist suss in deinen 


true, still hold the German stage, but in Johannes and 
in Die Versunkene Glocke respectively both Sudermann 
and Hauptmann have deserted to the Romantic camp, 
taking with them, however, a good proportion of the 
Realistic equipment. Particularly typical of this 
amalgamation of the two forces is Hannele, where 
the pathological and mystical explanations are to be 
accepted concurrently and not as alternatives, as in 
Mr. Henry James's Turn of the Screw. As was, how- 
ever, only natural, there was a considerable reaction, 
and orthodox naturalism was deliberately flouted by 
the Secessionsbuhne in 1899 with their penchant for 
fairy-dramas and their genuinely aesthetic project of 
stretching between the stage and the audience a veil 
of transparent gauze intended to draw the scene into 
a misty distance. The rankest idealism seemed for 
a time the order of the day. "All that the young 
and the moderns have fought against with such 
animosity between 1880 and 1890, pseudo-idealism, 
bookish dialogue, false and artificial characterisation, 
clap-trap stagecraft, all this celebrates in this drama 
a joyous resurrection ; let us acknowledge it; we have 
lost the battle against falsehood and stupidity, con- 
ventionalism, and the public, lost it absolutely," 
writes Julius Hart in the Tag of 1902. 

But the most interesting direction was given to 
this neo-romanticism by the aesthetic movement and 
Kunstschwarmerei which began to sweep over music, 
literature, painting, and the drama with an almost 
Nietzschean intensity. Pure realism and pure 
romanticism, then, both being extinct, and an agres- 
sive horde of exuberant and heretical artists being 
alive, the solution for the artistic problem was found 
in the aesthetic and romantic treatment of realistic 
themes. The prose of the human document became 
illuminated with the poesy of the human imagination. 


Realism and Romanticism went into partnership in 
the freest of unions, and Wedekind is one of the 
most interesting fruits of this drastic alliance. 

The realistic method might be worse than useless 
for aesthetic purposes, but the realistic stock-in-trade 
was invaluable material for spirits bursting with an 
almost morbid healthiness, spirits for whom no 
subject was too terrible, no sensation too violent. 
Let us, however, turn to the official pronouncement 
of Wedekind's preface to his revised and expurgated 
edition of Die Biichse von Pandora, in which he states 
his defence to the prosecution which the first edition 
of that interesting book had brought upon his martyred 
head : " Wedekind is an apostle of the modern move- 
ment. It is the motto of this movement to effect a 
transvaluation of aesthetic values in style and stage- 
craft. The followers of this movement have for 
over fifteen years repudiated the claims of the so- 
called 'aesthetic-content ' and of mere formal beauty ; 
they hold it permissible to depict artistically and 
to represent on the stage the ugly, the crude, the 
repulsive, and even the vulgar, provided always that 
such characteristics are not treated as ends in them- 
selves that is to say, when the work is not created 
by love of the abhorrent for its own sake but is 
merely the medium for the expression of an artistic 
idea. Wedekind, accordingly, as the disciple of 
these authors, chooses to shed a light upon the 
darkest crannies of vice, and in particular to surround 
with a poetic framework those sexual subjects which 
have been the peculiar subject of medical science. 
The end and goal of his writings is to awaken fear 
and pity." 

Such an apologia can scarcely be said to be super- 
fluous when one of the sub-plots of the play in 
question deals with the heroic, if somewhat nauseat- 


ing, rebellion of a woman in the determination of 
whose lot nature has made a somewhat unfortunate 

Before, however, we proceed to gaze upon the 
black and lurid pictures of our dramatic artist, it is 
advisable to turn very briefly to the audience for 
whose particular benefit they exercise their hellish 
fascination. Wedekind's audience, in a word, is the 
extreme left wing. The German left wing, however, 
is considerably more numerous, more advanced, and 
more dangerous than the English. Our own aesthetic 
movement was killed almost instantaneously by the 
Wilde debacle. We still, of course, have our ultra- 
modern movement, such as it is, but for practical 
purposes no one could be more amiable or innocuous 
than the ladies and gentlemen who used to constitute 
the highly respectable audiences of the Court Theatre, 
or who find in the Stage Society a mildly audacious 
means, of spending their Sabbath evenings. Germany, 
however, with its vastly superior education, and its 
horde of professional men and women, schoolmasters 
and piano-mistresses, lawyers, doctors, poets, and litte- 
rateurs, has the disease of modernity with a vengeance, 
carrying through each symptom to its logical con- 
clusion with a violence and intensity to which our 
own fluttering unconventionalism affords but the 
faintest and most shadowy parallel. Free -love, 
which, with the possible exception of a certain 
ephemeral incident successfully immortalised in three 
or four recent novels, is in England little more than a 
name, the mythical bogey with which the halfpenny 
press pretend to frighten their delighted readers, 
or is at best among the smart and the semi- 
educated rich the philosophic sanction for highly 
unphilosophic impulses, is in Germany a theoretic 
dogma almost as sacred as that of woman suffrage 


and demanding almost as devout sacrifices on the 
shrine of its philosophic altar. When again the subtle 
souls of Great Britain will so far break the ice of 
their insular reserve as to discourse about the tragedy 
of existence, the far more heroic spirits of German 
modernity will have recourse to all the aesthetic de- 
lights of a fine and artistic suicide, which indeed in 
the most advanced circles is almost a fashionable 
analogue to our own appendicitis, or will find in the 
modern dogma of "living their own life " the substan- 
tial though possibly slightly less exhausting equivalent 
to our English hunger-strike. How strong is the neo- 
aesthetic movement may be gauged by the phenom- 
enal success in Berlin of Salome and Monna Vanna, 
the great scenes of which were followed avidly by 
young girls with an enthusiasm which was more than 
aesthetic. It may also be mentioned incidentally that 
Wilde's De Profundis was published in German before 
it appeared in England, a circumstance due quite 
as much to a keener intellectual enthusiasm as to 
superior commercial enterprise. 

Realising, then, that while it is orthodox in 
England to be ashamed of one's passions and 
emotions, the German ambition is to plume oneself 
on taking everything au grand se'rieux, let us turn to 
a consideration of those plays in which, on a large 
canvas and in big bold splashes reminiscent of the 
not unanalogous methods of the Secessionist painters, 
Wedekind is pleased to present framed in gigantic 
irony : 

" Les immondes chacals, les pantheres, Ies lices, 
Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents, 
Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants, 
Dans la menagerie infame de nos vices." 

It will, perhaps, be well to start with that little 
masterpiece of a dramatic caricature, Der Kammer- 


Sanger. A fashionable singer, having completed his 
engagements in a provincial town, is snatching at 
last a few minutes' well-earned repose prior to catch- 
ing his train. He has given strict orders that he is 
at home to no one. But there is no repose for the 
famed. An English school miss, who has waited 
two hours in the rain, smuggles herself into the 
room : she prattles her enthusiasm with pretty in- 
fantile gush : a few deft words of paternal advice 
and she is summarily dismissed. But again the great 
man's seclusion is desecrated by the entrance of a 
brother artist, a pathetically grotesque figure of a 
megalomaniac failure whose publisher complains that 
he spoils his one chance of success by refusing to 
die and thus afford an opportunity for posthumous 
discovery. But the genial tolerance of the illustri- 
ous one is considerably harshened when his colleague 
insists on playing his own compositions in a scene 
every whit as racy and delightful as the classic 
episode in Wycherley's Plain Dealer, where Major 
Oldfox, having tied down the Widow Blackacre, 
discharges at her helpless person the most deadly 
poetical fusillade. Exit, however, the composer, after 
an interesting philosophic lecture by his victim on the 
singer's life and of the contempt which as a practical 
man (for at an early period in his career he was 
" in carpets ") he has for his fashionable bourgeois 
audience for whom he is a mere article of luxury 
as much in request as a motor-car or a new dress. 
Then, as the climax of this crescendo of invaders, 
enter Helene : a formal invitation to elope : the 
artist, however, has his contracts to fulfil and his 
train to catch, and the favour is declined with thanks : 
tears and threats of suicide : he endeavours to pacify 
her, and she promises to be good : he will miss his 
train if he is not quick. The romantic woman, how- 


ever, unable to bear the final parting, shoots herself 
on the spot. The remorseful lover follows her 
example ? Not a bit of it. He is politely regretful 
for the contretemps, but after all business is business, 
and he must catch his train. It is impossible with- 
out copious quotations to give a full idea of the 
piquant irony with which the comedy is salted ; the 
truth and reality of the theme stand out all the more 
brilliant from their garb of romantic travesty, while 
the superb impudence of utilising death as an essen- 
tially comic climax is without parallel in European 

Let us, however, now turn from light comedy to 
serious tragedy in the shape of Der Totentanz. The 
scene, as already mentioned, is laid in a i( private 
hotel." Where Shaw, however, sees but the problem, 
Wedekind has only eyes for the poetry. To Shaw 
the irony is a weapon, to Wedekind an end in itself. 
Elfrida, a young lady in Reformkleid, one of the most 
militant members of a suppression society, interviews 
the proprietor, the Marquis Casti Piani, on the subject 
of a former maid of hers, for whom she has been 
searching for some years. The girl is identified, and 
the whole question philosophically discussed. The 
proprietor, moreover, who is an extremely well-dressed 
gentleman with a first-class education, polished 
manners, and all the introspective subtlety of the 
most modern of decadents, neatly turns the tables by 
announcing that the real impetus which made the girl 
change her calling was the " suppression literature " 
which the puritanical young woman had with un- 
pardonable carelessness left lying about. The ice 
being thus broken, he proceeds in his capacity of 
sexual expert to diagnose the respective psychologies 
of his tete-a-tete and himself. Why, they are both 
tarred with the same brush. If he, the trafficker, 


pursues his unpopular vocation even more as a matter 
of sexual mania than of commercial enterprise, so 
does she, the philanthropist, ply her good work out 
of an equally morbid craving to move in a congenial 
atmosphere. Are they not both but the obverse and 
reverse of the same medal ? Paradoxical and super- 
Shavian dissertations on the theory of woman are 
then followed by blandishments and caresses, in re- 
spect of which with a marvellous genius for brutality 
he chaffs her on the crudity and inexperience of her 
technique. Then comes the most outre scene of the 
play when Casti Piani and Elfrida watch from behind 
a screen the courtship of Lisiska, the missing servant- 
girl, by a young man in a check knickerbocker suit ; 
the bizarre paradox is but accentuated by the swing 
and beauty Of the lyrics in which this wooing is con- 
ducted, and the distorted idealism of the girl, who, 
as the martyr-priestess of the j'oie de vivre, is almost 
genuinely convinced of the sanctity of her mission. 
The interlude over, the audience come from behind 
the curtain. Stung to the wildest pitch of emulation, 
the extreme limit of self-sacrificing ecstasy, the neurotic 
woman completes the cycle of her psychic revolution 
by the supplication, " Verkaufen Sie mich." The 
marquis, who has thus succeeded beyond his most 
sanguine expectations, in a fit of nervous revulsion 
shoots himself before the girl's eyes. Three of the 
inmates rush from three distinct doors, and the over- 
civilised satyr expires with their kisses on his lips, 
kisses savoured and criticised with all the frenzy of 
the moribund connoisseur * Kflsse mich nein, das 
war nicht Kiisse kusse mich anders." 

It is impossible to express more cogently the whole 
tragedy of the dying sensualist. 

No normal Englishman can be expected to enjoy 
such a play ; in justice, however, to the author, this 


freny is aesthetic as well as sexual. New worlds, in 
fact, have been needed to regale the insatiate appe- 
tites of the dramatist and his hearers ; " Heaven has 
been blown to pieces by the artillery of science ; 
earth is cold, stale and unpalatable ; perforce let us 
batten on the fires of hell," would run his motto. 
As Baudelaire in verse, and Beardsley in painting, 
found their theme in the vicious and the abhorrent, 
so does Wedekind in the drama. As an ordinary 
play, Der Totentanz falls outside judgment ; as a sheer 
literary curiosity, a dramatic fantasia on the sex- 
motif, a deliberate essay in the art of the ironical and 
the brutal, the piece achieves its own and peculiar 

Diejunge Welt, on the other hand, flows in a current 
which, in spite of the eventual madness of the princi- 
pal male character, is limpid and playful by com- 
parison with thePhlegethontian course of the Totentanz. 
The theme of the comedy is the woman movement. 
In the prologue, one of his most aery and delicious 
pieces of work, Wedekind shows us a bevy of school- 
girls at lessons, chattering, fooling, and "ragging" 
their master with the most delightful naivete. They 
have a pretty taste in literature, forsooth, reading 
surreptitious copies of The Arabian Nights, talking 
gravely of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and quoting 
with the prettiest of pedantry Schiller, Goethe, and 
even Ovid. No mere prattlers, however. Glorying 
in their grievance, they found a league, the solemn 
oath of whose members is never to marry until the 
most glaring outrages in the education of the young 
are remedied. Towards the end of the scene some 
youthful figures of the opposite sex enter. How long 
will the league last ? 

Then we come to the actual play where the sacred 
circle has been already cut by a marriage of one of 


the members. The whole comedy, in fact, shows 
how irresistibly the Life Force claims its own. The 
brisk racy dialogue and the satiric character drawing 
of the ultra-moderns are equally delicious. Particu- 
larly charming are Anna, masking the temperament 
of her Shavian namesake beneath the pose of the 
new woman ; Karl, the picturesque scamp, who has 
married a seamstress on abstract socialistic principles ; 
and Meyer, the modern poet, who, when his fiancee 
presents herself to recite a poem which he has written, 
in the most faithful of Cupid costumes, is most 
righteously indignant because the dress fails to 
harmonise with the subtle spirit of his masterpiece. 

A masterly little piece of irony, again, is the cele- 
brated stage-direction, when, at the climax of an 
intense passage, a baby squalls, and is carried off the 
stage by its mother, to the accompaniment of music. 
Perhaps, however, the deftest touch of satire is the 
analysis of the decline of the detraque litterateur, 
accustomed to transcribe each kiss fresh from the 
lips of his beloved into his artistic note-book. 
" When I made my psychological studies on Anna, 
then Anna becomes unnatural on some other speci- 
men she became jealous there was no other 
alternative but to make them on myself." 

Wedekind's dramatic masterpieces, however, are 
Die Erdgeist and Fruhlingserwachen, which merit, con- 
sequently, a somewhat more detailed analysis. Die 
Erdgeist, as has been already remarked, deals with the 
theme of the modern Lilith, not from the point of view 
of orthodox dramatic technique like Mr. Pinero, not 
scientifically like Zola, but aesthetically. No show 
of esoteric detail, no orthodox denouement; simply 
atmosphere. The play, together with its sequel, Die 
Biichse von Pandora, constitutes the epic of the courte- 
san. In the first act, Schwarz, a painter, is at work 



on the portrait, in pierrot costume, of the wife of a Dr. 
Goll, a lady rejoicing in the various Christian names 
of Nellie, Eva, and Lulu. A middle-aged journalist, 
named Schon, who is in the studio, is on old and 
friendly terms with Frau Goll. The fact that female 
beauty is the raison cCetre of the creature's existence 
is soon made apparent by the following dialogue : 

Lulu. Here I am. 

Schon. Splendid. 

Lulu. Well? 

Schon. You put the wildest imagination to the blush. 

LULU. Do you find me nice? 

Schon. You're a picture that makes artists despair. 

The pompous conventionalism of the doctor is 
seen almost immediately, when he suggests with 
heavy gravity that she is not wearing her costume 
with sufficient reserve. The artist proceeds to work, 
and the mere mechanism of posing brings out at 
once the sheer sexuality of the animal which he is 
painting. Goll is carried off by Schon, and the 
artist and the pierrot are left alone. The young 
painter proves more attractive than the old professor, 
who arrives towards the climax of a wild scene. In 
the scuffle, Goll is killed. Death, however, is a pet 
theme of Wedekind, who proceeds to batten thereon 
with abnormal gusto. 

Schwarz. The doctor is bound to be here in a minute. 

LULU. Doctoring won't help him. 

Schwarz. Still, in a case like this, one does what one can. 

Lulu. He doesn't believe in doctors. 

Schwarz. Won't you, at any rate, change ? 

Lulu. Yes, at once. 

Schwarz. Why are you waiting ? 

Lulu. I say 

Schwarz. What? 

Lulu. Please close his eyes. 

Schwarz. They are awful. 

Lulu. Nothing like as awful as you. 



LULU. You're a depraved character. 
Schwarz. Doesn't all this affect you ? 
Lulu. Yes, I too am as well moved. 
Schwarz. Then 1 ask you not to say anything. 
LULU. You are moved as well. 

Shocked by her comparative callousness, Schwarz 
subjects her to a catechism does she believe in a 
Creator, a soul, or anything only to find himself 
beating against an eternal u I don't know." 

So ends the first act, and this creature, whose hair 
is a net of murder, whose lips are poisoned fruit, and 
whose eyes are pits of hell, has already one death to 
her credit. 

The second act discloses Schwarz married to Lulu, 
and in the heyday of artistic fame and fortune. A 
fleeting light is cast on the swamp, from which 
the fiend has emerged, by the entry and departure 
of Schigolch, her old ragamuffin of a sire. Then 
follows a tete-a-tete between Lulu and Schon. Com- 
bining, as she does, the soul of an Ibsen woman with 
the body of a Phryne, she complains of her husband's 
obtusity : ** He is not a child he is commonplace 
he has no education he realises nothing he realises 
neither me nor himself he is blind, blind he doesn't 
know me, but he loves me ; that is an unbridgeable 
gulf." The painter returns, and is given by Schon 
the outlines of his wife's past. Schon had picked 
her out of the gutter at the age of twelve, and had 
had her educated ; her antecedents were ghastly ; 
after the death of Schon's wife, Lulu wished to marry 
him ; to obviate that, he made her marry Dr. Goll 
with his half a million. Lulu is anxious to be good, 
but must be taken seriously. The painter then 
commits suicide, and the author feasts again on the 
carnage in a scene which, for sheer horror, challenges 
even Macbeth, 


" After you," says Lulu, after they have heard the 
body fall, and Schon has opened the door. 

Schon. There's the end of my engagement. Ten minutes ago 
he lay here. 1 

Schon. That is your husband's blood. 

Lulu. It leaves no stain. 

Schon. Monster! 

LULU. Of course you will marry me. 

Then, by way of a really strong curtain, they send 
for a reporter, and dictate the official version of the 
thrilling story. The third act is the dressing-room 
of Lulu ; she has gone on the music-hall stage as a 
barefoot dancer of classical measure ; Schon, having 
temporarily freed himself from the spell, is about to 
marry a charming, " innocent child," whom he has 
brought to witness the spectacle. The insult stimu- 
lates the girl to a supernormal fascination. Having 
refused the proposals of a prince, she deliberately sets 
herself to cast her wand over the journalist. She 
mocks him brazenly, with her magic potency over him, 
in a scene of the most subtle cruelty. 

Schon. Don't look at me so shamelessly. 
Lulu. No one is keeping you here. 

The Circaean witchery is complete, and the man, 
transformed, writes, at the dictation of the enchantress, 
a letter breaking off his engagement. 

In the fourth act, nemesis is at hand. His marriage 
with Lulu shatters the constitution of the aging 
journalist, who falls a victim to persecution-mania. 
Lulu, though genuinely in love with him, surrenders 
herself almost mechanically to the kisses of his son. 
The journalist can stand no more such a creature is 
not fit to live she must commit suicide with the 
revolver which he produces. Simply as a matter of 

1 It is curious to notice that almost identical words were used in Irene 


self-preservation, she turns the weapon against the 
man himself. Then ensues the most devilish scene 
of all. Fearing the prison-cage, the brute turns for 
help to the child of its prey : " I shot him because 
he wanted to shoot me. I loved no man in the world 
like I did him. Aiwa, demand what you will. Look 
at me, Aiwa ; look at me, man, look at me." 

Those anxious for the further history of Lulu should 
turn to the livid pages of Die Biichse von Pandora. 
There, in flaming characters, they will read of her 
imprisonment, of how, being deprived of a mirror, 
she at last found relief by seeing her reflection in a 
new spoon, of her rescue therefrom by her inamorata, 
the Countess Geschwitz, and of her flight to Paris 
with Aiwa Schon ; they will read of her life there 
among souteneurs, blackmailers, and millionaires, of 
her migration from Paris to London, of her degrada- 
tion to the streets, and her final assassination at the 
hands of Jack the Ripper. 

Wedekind, who to the metier of the artist joins 
that of the enfant terrible, strains in this play every 
nerve to shock. As the susceptibilities of the left 
wing of most of the English intellects are about on 
a par with those of the right wing of the German 
aesthetic movement, from our own point of view he 
more than overshoots the mark. None the less, the 
English reader, though stifled amid the fumes of the 
monstrous debauch, is forced to admire here and 
there passages of a potency truly infernal. The final 
scene in the wet and noisome garret is indisputably 
tragic, when the squalid thing gazes at Schwarz's 
pierrot picture of her dead beauty, only to throw it 
in revulsion out of the window, or where Aiwa and 
Schigolch analyse the melancholy past. 

Alwa. She should have been a Catherine of Russia. 
Schigolch. That beast ! 


ALWA. Although her development was precocious, she once had 
the, expression of a gay and healthy child of five years old. She 
was then only three years younger than I. In spite of her 
marvellous superiority to me in practical matters, she let me 
explain to her the meaning of Tristan and Isolde, and how 
fascinating she was when I read it to her and she grasped its 
meaning. From the little sister that felt herself like a schoolgirl 
in her first marriage, she became the wife of an unfortunate and 
hysterical artist ; from being the wife of the artist, she became 
the wife of my late father ; from being the wife of my father, she 
became my mistress ; so flows the stream of the world. Who can 
swim against it ? 

So ends a play not without some resemblance to 
Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, if one can imagine the fan- 
atical moralist treating such a subject with the artistic 
irony of a very much Germanised Aubrey Beardsley. 

But Wedekind's most serious contribution to dra- 
matic literature is to be found in Friihlingserwachen. 
The orthodox stage-conventions, it is true, are sweep- 
ingly ignored ; the scene is changed with more than 
Shakespearean frequency ; the characters indulge in 
prolonged romantic soliloquies ; none the less, the 
night of genuine tragedy broods over the whole piece. 

The first act opens with a conversation between 
Frau Bergman and her daughter Wendla. The girl 
is growing up, fit to wear longer dresses, and exhibit- 
ing the morbidity appropriate to her years. In the 
next scene we see schoolboys at talk ; with intense 
gravity they travel from their work to religion, and 
from religion to sex, discussing the Platonic and 
American systems of education, remarking that 
Superstition is the Charybdis into which one flies 
out of the Scylla of religious mania, or comparing 
notes on the growth of their respective manhoods. 
Melchior, the leading spirit of the knot, promises 
to provide his less experienced friend, Moritz, with 
a written synopsis of the mechanism of life. In 
the third scene, we get the other side of the medal, 


when a bevy of girls discuss life. How shall we 
dress our children ? Which is it better to be a girl, 
or a man ? Then, again, the scene is filled with 
schoolboys, and we see the academic enthusiasm of 
young Germany. 

u I've got my move," cried Melchior. * I've got 
my move now the world can go to pot if I 
hadn't got my move, I'd have shot myself." A 
British youth with his cricket or football " colours " 
fresh on his victorious head could not possibly have 
manifested a more sacred joy, and one thinks in- 
cidentally of the Viennese student who shot the 
professor who had ploughed him in his viva voce. 

Scene V, after a short philosophic exposition by 
Melchior of the universality of egoism, contains an 
episode between himself and Wendla, when at her 
own request he hits and beats her, so that, forsooth, 
she may realise the sufferings of a friend of hers 
similarly handled by her parents. After we have 
paid a visit to Melchior's study, where Melchior and 
Moritz are reading Faust together, we are transported 
once again to the house of Wendla and her mother. 
This scene is the most pathetic in the first act. The 
old fairy tales about the stork cease to obtain 
credence, but the birthright of knowledge claimed 
by the child is refused by the mother. 

"Why can't you tell me, Mother dear see, I kneel at your 
feet and lay my head upon your lap you put your skirt over my 
head and tell me, and tell me as if you were alone in the room. 
I promise not to move I promise not to shriek." 

Could the dim forebodings of innocence, the harrow- 
ing consciousness of mystery, be more poignantly 
delineated ? 

In the third act, events move apace. A poetic 
nemesis befalls the prudish mother, for the child 
surrenders all unwitting to the ardour of Melchior. 


Spring has indeed awakened. Moritz, however, has 
been unsuccessful at school ; he wanders into the 
forest to make the end. Four pages of soliloquy ; 
a dramatic device, no doubt, but none the less 
indicative of the exaggerated introspective pedantry 
of the average German schoolboy. u I wander to the 
altar like the youth in old Etruria, whose death-rattle 
purchased deliverance for his brothers in the coming 
year." Then, when his thoughts are at their darkest, 
a pretty little artist's model comes tripping along 
barefoot ; gay and sparkling is her careless life. 
" Come home with me." But the schoolboy has his 
lessons to do, and he hies himself to his final task. 
Act III. Apprehensive of a suicide epidemic, the 
masters hold a meeting in which the question of 
whether the window shall be open or shut is appar- 
ently of as much importance as the expulsion of 
Melchior. Then comes the funeral of Moritz ; the 
father repudiates the paternity of so prodigal a son, 
while the classical professor sapiently remarks, u If 
he had only learnt his history of Greek literature, 
he would have had no occasion to hang himself." 
Melchior, however, is still at large, and after a 
harrowing dialogue between his father and mother, 
is packed off to a reformatory. 

But the transformation scene goes merrily on, and 
we behold first the reformatory, from which Melchior 
effects an escape, and then Wendla's sick-room. Amid 
the most trenchant satire on the pompous fashionable 
doctor, it becomes apparent that the child has brought 
home to her mother the full wages of innocence. 

Frau Bergmann. You have a child. 

Wendla. But that is not possible, Mother. I am not married. 
Oh, Mother, why did you not tell me everything ? 

The finale of the play is laid in the churchyard, 
over whose wall there clambers the escaped Melchior ; 


he walks past the tombstone of Wendla, dead from 
her mother's heroic efforts to save her reputation ; 
after an interview with Moritz, out for a nocturnal 
stroll, with his head tucked under his arm, he meets 
a mysterious stranger, who launches him in the world. 
Such is a synopsis of a play produced in Germany 
amid the wildest acclamation and disparagement. Its 
success is largely due to the fact that it is pregnant 
with a problem which, in Germany, at any rate, is of 
peculiar moment. " Is such a subject capable of 
artistic treatment ? " demands the man of the old 
school. If, however, the treatment is somewhat more 
drastic than in Longfellow's 

* Standing with reluctant feet 
Where the brook and river meet," 

the subject is the same, the reason for the difference 
being that German blood flows with a swifter current 
and a fuller volume than the thin New England trickle 
of the early nineteenth century. As a sheer piece of 
psychology, the work is as great as James's The Awk- 
ward Age, if one may compare a Vulcanic forge with 
a Daedalean web. That, indeed, the theme is unfit 
for tragic treatment, let those maintain whose ideally 
balanced temperaments have never experienced the 
throes and travails that attend the birth of manhood 
or womanhood. 

Some reference should be made to Wedekind's less 
important works to the somewhat inferior farce, Der 
Liebestrank; to the highly serious So istdas Leben, a work 
whose psychology and symbolism are analogous to 
Ibsen's Volksfiend ; to the amusing, but not particularly 
significant Marquis von Keith, with its mixture of the 
problem, the extravaganza, and the character study, 
and its delightful comedy passage, when a boy wins 
his way with his father by blackmailing him with 
suicide ; to Minnehaha, the prose-poem, compounded 


of the spirits of the classics and the coulisses ; to 
the satiric grotesque, Oaha, an elaborate skit on the 
celebrated Munich journal with its chronic confis- 
cations by the police and its special u prison-editor " ; 
and to Hidalla, that rollicking burlesque tragedy of 
Free Love and Eugenics. On a higher plane, however, 
are the volume of short stories, Feuerwerk, and the 
collection of poems entitled Die Vier Jahrzeiten. Like 
Guy de Maupassant, Wedekind treats only the one 
subject. His technique, however, is different, and while 
the Frenchman crowns each tale with a climax, the 
German clothes it with an atmosphere. Feuerwerk, 
moreover, is worth reading, if only for the style, with 
its noble simplicity and its majestic roll. The master- 
piece of the series is Der Greise Freier, where, set in 
the background of an Italian honeymoon, lies painted 
the grey romance of a young girl realising her love 
in the very arms of death. Matchless, again, as a 
mock heroic tour de force is Rabbi von Ezra, a philo- 
sophic sermon by an aged Hebrew, delivered in the 
grandiose style of the prophets, on his comparative 
experiences with the wife of his bosom and the strange 
woman. The poems, also, are, with a few exceptions, 
innumerable variations of the eternal theme. With 
all its fantastic bizarrerie, reminiscent of Baudelaire, 
Poe, or Verlaine, the mood is throughout more mascu- 
line, not to say more brutal. No lover has yet set his 
enamoured features to a grin of such tigerish ferocity ; 
no writer of songs has yet refined melodious lyrics 
with such Nietzschean gusto, such Satanic exultation. 
Keuscheit, in particular, is truly the apotheosis of the 
super-brutal. In a more normal vein, making quite 
a new departure in the art of light verse, is the charm- 
ing poem beginning : 

" Ich habe meine Tante geschlachtet, 
Meine Tante war alt und schwach." 


Of course it is inevitable that, like the Secessionist 
painters, seeking, as he does, such drastic effects by 
such drastic means, when he falls, he should fall 
with overwhelming heaviness. Occasionally, instead 
of being powerful, he is merely rude. At his best, 
however, his poems exhibit the swing and ripple 
of the authentic lyric. Typical of him at his best 
are Heimweh and Der Blinde Knabe. Yet now and 
again the cry of the sufferer pierces the cynic's mask. 

" Ich stehe schuldlos vor meinem Verstand, 
Und fuhle des Schicksals zermalmende Hand." 

Among Wedekind's more recent works we would 
mention Zensur and Schloss von Wetterstein and, far 
more particularly, Musik and Franziska. 

Zensur, with its sub-title a Theodicy, is an apologia 
pro vita sua, arising more particularly out of the fact 
that the play, Die Biichse von Pandora, was actually 
censored even in Munich. The protagonist of this 
work, Walter Butidan, is without disguise Frank 
Wedekind, for the postulate of the Wedekindian 
personality, as a fundamental element in contempo- 
rary national culture, is as important in Germany as 
was some years ago the postulate of the Shavian 
personality in England. And, indeed, with all his 
clownings and buffooneries, Wedekind is frequently 
as serious as Mr. Shaw himself. It will therefore 
be appreciated that the passage which we are now 
going to quote out of the dialogue between Buridan 
and the Court official is meant deliberately, not as 
a mere piece of impudence but in all earnestness. 

Buridan. But can you adduce anything out of my writings 
which hasn't for its ultimate object to glorify and represent artis- 
tically that eternal justice before which we all bend the knee with 
all humility ? 

Dr. Prantl. What do you mean by eternal justice ? 

Buridan. I understand by eternal justice the same thing as 


that which John the Evangelist called the Logos. I understand 
by it the same thing as that which the whole of Christendom 
worships as the Holy Ghost. In no one of my works have I put 
forward the good as bad or the bad as good. I have never falsi- 
fied the consequences which accrue to a man as the result of his 
actions. I have simply portrayed those consequences in all their 
inexorable necessity. 

In a somewhat different vein is the weird trilogy, 
In Allen Satteln Gerecht {Ready for Everything), Mit 
Allen Hiiden Gehetzt {Up to Everything), and In Allen 
Wassern Gewaschen, which have been recently pub- 
lished together, under the title of Schloss von Wetterstein. 
In these three plays the lascivious and the intellectual, 
the monstrous and the real, the comic and the tragic, 
are linked together in a union which, though to 
some extent burlesque, is on the whole successful. 
The dialogue, in particular, in this hybrid of tragedy 
and extravaganza, with its ingenious twists, its lusty 
thwackings, its shrewd, violent thrusts, not merely 
home, but, as it were, right through the body, is in 
its own way packed with genius. Erne, in particular, 
with her insatiable appetite in the erotic sphere, is 
the greatest enfant terrible in the whole of modern 
European literature. And truly tragic is her dismay 
when she discovers that that Unersatllichkeit in Liebe, 
on which she has built her whole philosophy of 
life, is simply to be attributed to chronic indigestion, 
and that the instantaneous effect which she produces 
upon males is simply due to a diseased liver. 

More serious, though with the usual Wedekindian 
sardonic undercurrent, is Musik. This play consists 
of four u pictures from the life of a young singing 
student, Klara Hiihnerwadel, studying her art in the 
household of a professor who is married to another 
woman. Events take their normal course, but there 
is a great uproar owing to the arrest and trial of 
the woman, through whose illegal assistance Klara 


had successfully escaped the natural corollary of 
her rash romanticism. Klara is consequently packed 
off across the frontier to avoid arrest herself. She 
returns, however, is duly arrested, and the second 
"picture" shows her in prison. In the third " picture," 
she is once more back at the professor's house, and 
once more does history repeat itself, though in this 
case the legal ordinances are not infringed. In the 
fourth "picture," Klara has given birth to a son, 
of whom she is devotedly fond. With true Wede- 
kindian irony, however, the child dies on the stage. 
Such is the skeleton of the plot, squalid, though 
no doubt highly plausible. But the play must be 
read itself to appreciate the sheer force of its sinister 
realism. The characters in this piece are among the 
most convincing that ever walked the boards of 
a Wedekind play, painted too in colours far more 
sober than those fantastic luridities with which this 
author is accustomed to disport himself. It is, 
in fact, if we may draw a slightly startling analogy, 
a " slice of life " play of the Galsworthian genre. 
Before passing from Musik, we would like to quote 
the passage describing the child's death as typically 
characteristic of the author's brutal pathos. 

Else. The bath will do him good {with her bare arm in the 
water) it's all cooking salt the salt won't hurt him, will it, 
doctor ? 

Dr. Schwarzkopf {by the cot, dully). There is nothing more to 
be done. The child is dead. 

Klara {gives an agonised shriek). 

[The Landlady picks up the tub of water from the 
floor and carries it out. 

In Franziska (191 2), Wedekind has given fresh rein 
to his fantastic exuberance. This weird drama deals 
with the experiences of an ultra-modern Mademoiselle, 
de Maupin, who, having sold herself to the devil in 


-the shape of an impresario, who holds her strictly 
to her bargain, proceeds to see life like a veritable 
twentieth-century female Faust. And life, forsooth, 
she sees with a vengeance, playing the smart " blood " 
in a gay Wetnstube; marrying a rich heiress, so naive 
and so unsophisticated as to put everything down to 
sheer frigidity on the part of her imagined husband ; 
successfully masquerading in silk knee-breeches to a 
silly old monarch as a genuine spirit, only finally, like 
a contemporary 

"In veterem Caeneus revoluta figuram," 

to subside both purified and enlightened byher kaleido- 
scopic experiences into the healthy bliss of the quasi- 
domestic life with a new, honest, and well-meaning 

The wild, rollicking humour of this play will perhaps 
appeal in vain to the more stolid of our English 
minds. Some help may perhaps be found for the 
due appreciation of this, and, indeed, of all Wedekind's 
plays, if it be borne in mind that for a modern woman 
to live her own life in Southern Germany {sich 
auszuleben, to employ the technical and official phrase) 
is not revolutionary but elementary, and is far more 
of a cliche than a new departure. Further, the play 
claims to be treated not by the standards of the ordi- 
nary drama, but as a problem farce, an Aristophanic 
modernity, a philosophic extravaganza, a dramatic 
anomaly, very much sui generis, and consequently re- 
quiring very special critical standards. Judging it by 
these standards, it is impossible not to be swept away 
by the high spirits of this strange piece of art. Who, 
too, can gainsay the practical up-to-dateness of a play 
where maidens insure against children, wives against 
infidelity, monarchs against madness ? And who will 
not admire the almost morbid conscientiousness of 


Franziska, who, having had one lover of the name of 
Veit, and another lover of the name of Ralph, and 
becoming subsequently a mother, determines, out of 
comprehensive precaution and sheer sense of fairness, 
to call the little boy by the impartial designation of 
Veitralph ? It is, however, only fair to state, as we 
have already hinted, that the play finishes up on a 
note of genuine pathos and semi-conjugal affection. 

What, then, is Wedekind's final claim ? As a play- 
wright in the ordinary sense of the word, his preten- 
sions are negligible. One of the most marked features, 
however, of the last decade and a half has been the 
evolution of fresh species in the genus drama. Thus, 
apart from the drama or play of action, with its 
orthodox denouement and climax, we have the "idea" 
play, as in Mr. Shaw ; the " slice of life " play, as in 
Mr. Galsworthy ; or the u aesthetic atmosphere " play, 
as in Maeterlinck. Whether we call such work drama, 
or quasi-drama, is as immaterial from the larger 
standpoint as the surname we choose to give to the in- 
dividual who did, or who did not, write Hamlet. Even, 
however, with this extended classification, it is diffi- 
cult to docket into any definite pigeon-hole so idio- 
syncratic a temperament. If we have to commit 
ourselves, we would say that the Wedekind play is 
the lyric play of irony irony both comic and tragic. 
Even making all due allowances for defects, for the 
superfluous thickness with which sometimes he places 
his harsh and violent colours, or for occasional amor- 
phous construction, as in Friihlingserwachen, as a master 
of irony he is indisputably a genius. No sceva indig- 
natioy it is true, lends its ethical sanction, no Hellenic 
elpwveia its delicate grace : it is for his own fiendish 
delectation that he plies his knout on that world of 
abnormalities called into existence for this express 
purpose, and writhing prettily in the most ingenious 


of dances. Yet with what art and dexterity does 
he operate, finding with unerring aim the raw place 
of his victims, and drawing from these apparent 
grotesques the blood of genuine humanity. Your 
specialist will no doubt diagnose him a decadent, yet 
he is tense with a frenzied virility. It is, as we have 
said before, the very exuberance and violence of 
his energy that leads him plumb the abyss. He 
has himself well expressed his whole outlook on life, 
and indeed the whole Nietzschean standpoint, in the 
following lines : 

" For them your kind and gracious face, 

For me the sword smiles sweet, 
For me the savage bear's embrace, 

For them old Bruin's meat. 
The brutal foe's own strife I choose, 

They the humanities of truce." 


' My dear friend, as far as that grotesque realism is concerned, which 
considers it its duty to get along without stage management or prompter, 
that realism in which a fifth act frequently fails to be reached because a 
tile has fallen upon the hero's head in the second act I am not interested. 
As for myself, I let the curtain go up when it begins to be amusing, and I 
let it go down at the moment which I consider fit." 

In these words, touched with a delicate flippancy 
which is thoroughly characteristic, Arthur Schnitzler 
endeavours to summarise that technique which, 
though it has lifted him to the summit of the 
Austrian drama, is as yet comparatively unknown to 
the English public, if one excepts the recent perform- 
ance by the Stage Society of The Green Cockatoo and 
Countess Mizzi, and the production of Analol at the 
Palace Music Hall. 

It is, in fact, because Schnitzler's plays combining, 
and on the whole combining efficiently, the psycho- 
logical interest of pure " problem " with the emotional 
interest of pure " drama," afford specimens of a 
type novel to, at any rate, the majority of our 
theatre-goers, that they provoke something more than 
a cursory examination, not only of themselves, but of 
the standpoint and method of the man who wrote 
them. Above all is this the case in a country like 
England, where the problem play is hampered by so 
many handicaps. The exaggerated officialdom of 
our English propriety, beneficial though it may be 
from the moral aspect, produces artistically unfor- 
tunate results. Many first-class problem plays are 
exiled from the stage, but that is not where the mis- 

161 L 


chief ends. Even when they are produced, it is only 
to be looked on with suspicion as eccentric symptoms 
of dangerous, not to say anarchistic tendencies. 
When, however, official and " respectable " dramatists 
(i.e. dramatists of the stamp of Mr. Pinero or of Mr. 
Sutro) produce so-called problem plays before 
official and " respectable " audiences (i.e. audiences 
of a calibre other than that of those who patronise 
the Little Theatre and Stage Society performances), it 
will be usually found (if, indeed, the play is not an 
innocuous family drama, or simply a comedy of 
intrigue, for in many cases the word u problem " has 
degenerated into a mere euphemism for some slight 
forgetfulness of the Seventh Commandment) that 
the dramatist has sacrificed the duty of working out 
his problems logically and artistically to the still 
more paramount duty of appeasing the moral con- 
sciousness of his audience. 

Further, it is one of the precepts of our dramatic 
technique, most honoured in the observance, that the 
action should take place among people of high social 
position ; as, however, it so happens that it is rather 
among the more intellectual and introspective of the 
middle classes that genuine problems tend to arise, 
the scope of the dramatist becomes automatically 
narrowed. Of course we have our dramatic left 
wing, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Galsworthy, Mr. Barker, our 
ultra-modern exponents of the drama of ideas and 
the drama of psychology. But here, again, our 
revolutionaries overshoot the mark in their reaction 
from the orthodox. Mr. Shaw will bombard us 
with ideas till we can hardly stand. When, however, 
we have recovered our balance, we observe that, 
however indisputable may be his pre-eminence as a 
thaumaturgic apostle of a successfully dechristianised 
Christianity, his characters are marked by com- 


paratively few traits of individual psychology, and 
participate in comparatively little dramatic action. 
It is, indeed, with profound appreciation of his weak- 
ness that " talking " is set by Mr. Shaw as a final 
seal on the Superman. Mr. Galsworthy and Mr. 
Barker, it is true, do give us not only elaborate dis- 
cussion of social problems (though not infrequently 
an airy discussion of things in general is dragged in 
forcibly with no, or little, reference to the action of 
the play), but also refined and delicate delineations of 
individual character. But with the possible exception 
of the grandiose and monstrous Waste and the statu- 
esque thesis and antithesis of the sociological Strife, 
their plays are not dramatic. To express it with 
almost childish implicity, their plays are not u ex- 
citing." With a few exceptions, they are charged with 
no atmosphere and abut at no climax. 

Mere ideas, however, will not make the dramatic 
world go round, and mere psychology often only 
makes it go flat. Few words are mouthed with such 
fluent irresponsibility as " technique," but it may be 
said and said, we think, truly, and without affectation 
that no play can be a success without a certain 
minimum of u technique " ; that is to say, either one 
continuous thread of dramatic interest on which 
successive acts are strung, or some particular arch- 
effect to which (especially if a one-acter) the whole 
play abuts, and to the atmosphere of which all the 
elements are harmoniously toned. 

The vice of the English drama, then, is this : plays 
of good technical mechanism possess little or no " pro- 
blem " interest ; plays of " problem " or psychological 
interest possess little or no technical mechanism. 

Let us, consequently, glancing first at his plays, 
and perhaps later at those short stories which stand 
in the most intimate relation to his one-acters, ascer- 


tain to what extent Schnitzler has solved successfully 
the great " problem of the problem." 

Liebelei, which was produced first in 1895, is an 
excellent example both of Schnitzler's powers and of 
Schnitzler's limitations. The motif of the play is the 
problem of the refined middle-class girl, who stands, if 
we may borrow the terminology of popular melo- 
drama, at the cross-roads. Which turning is it better 
for her to take the right turning, or the wrong 
turning ? 

Fritz, a sentimental young Viennese student, is dis- 
cussing in his rooms the affairs of his heart with the 
saner and more practical Theodor. Fritz is melan- 
choly. He has been sustaining a grand passion for 
a married woman, but the looming shadow of the 
husband obsesses him. Are his nerves playing him 
tricks, or has the husband ascertained ? 

Theodor advises him to sail in shallower and less 
troubled waters. " You must go for your happiness 
where I did and found it, too where there are no 
great scenes, no dangers, and no tragic developments, 
where the first steps are not particularly hard and 
the last, again, are not painful, where one receives 
the first kiss with a smile and parts finally with the 
softest feeling." 

Scruples are out of place on the principle, " Better 
myself than someone else, and the someone else is as 
inevitable as Fate." 

Theodor, moreover, has not only prescribed the 
cure, but has ordered the medicine. Enter Mizzi, the 
actual " happiness " of Theodor, and Christine, the 
prospective " happiness" of Fritz. Mizzi the practical 
prepares supper, while the sweet naivete of the genu- 
inely unsophisticated Christine captivates the jaded 
soul of our fin de Steele romantic. There ensues a 
scene of the most delicate gaiety and camaraderie. 


All is health and goodwill. Even Mizzi the prosaic 
shows her passion for the picturesque on learning that 
Fritz is in the Dragoons : 

Mizzi. Are you in the yellow or the black ? 
Fritz. I'm in the yellow. 
MlZZI {dreamily). In the yellow. 

Could there be a more subtle probing into the soul 
of the novelette-reading shopgirl ? 

Then, at the zenith of the feast, when glasses are 
clinking and souls are flowing, enter the skeleton. 
The company is packed into the next room, and 
Fritz is left to arrange a duel with the man whom 
he has wronged. Exit the skeleton, re-enter the re- 
vellers ; yet the shadow of the looming death casts a 
gloom even over the unconscious minds of the others. 
The girls bid a gay farewell to the young men, but 
the aftermath of the old love is already poisoning the 
sweets of the new. 

The next scene is in the lodgings of Christine on 
the eve of that duel of which the love-stricken girl 
is in blissful ignorance. Christine, bien entendu, in 
contradistinction to the casual and heart-whole Mizzi, 
is taking her love-affair with the maximum of seri- 
ousness. Katherine, a benevolent busybody of a 
neighbour, puts Weiring, the musician father of 
Christine, on his guard. Weiring, however, having 
been the uncomplaisant brother of his sister, is deter- 
mined, on the strength of his experience, to be the 
complaisant father of his daughter. 

Weiring. I became, Heaven knows, proud, and gloried in my 
conduct and then, little by little, the grey hairs came and the 
wrinkles, and one day went by another till her whole youth was 
gone and gradually, so that one could scarcely notice it, the young 
girl became an old maid, and then I first began to suspect what I 
had really done. 

Katherine. But, Herr Weiring . . . 

Weiring. I can see how she often used to sit with me in the 


evening by this lamp in this room, with her silent smile, with a 
strange kind of devotion, as if she still wished to thank me for 
something, and I the one thing I wanted most to do was to 
throw myself on my knees and ask for her forgiveness for guard- 
ing her so well from all dangers and from all happiness. 

The act ends with a love-scene between Christine 
and Fritz, poignant in its irony. He is all-in-all to 
her, she is just something to him ; but he goes off to 
fight a duel on account of another woman without so 
much as bidding her a real farewell. 

In the third act the news of Fritz's death is broken 
to Christine, and here comes the most subtle and 
delicate touch of all. Poignant as is her grief at his 
death, her grief at the casual flippancy of his treat- 
ment is even more poignant. Our jin de siecle Ophelia 
rushes madly out of the house to commit suicide in 
the nearest brook, or perhaps more probably under 
the nearest train, to point the philosophic moral, 
" A bas la grande passion ! Vive I Amourette ! " 

The play, however, should be read or seen to 
obtain an adequate appreciation of the precision 
with which each character is drawn, the spontaneity 
with which the dialogue flows, and the lyric pathos 
with which the whole is invested. The limitations, 
such as they are, simply lie in the fact that each act 
is self-complete in itself. However good they may 
be, three consecutive one-acters never made a drama. 
To compare great things with low, each act of a 
drama, like each instalment of a feuilleton, should 
leave, as it were, the hanging tag of some vital inter- 
rogation. The dramatic banquet should not only 
regale the mind of the spectator during, but titillate 
it with the aftermath between the acts. 

As we shall see later, when he comes to dramatise 
on the larger scale, Schnitzler not infrequently ex- 
hibits the defects of those very qualities which make 
him so supreme in the sphere of the one-acter. 


In Mdrchen (the Fairy Tale), on the other hand, 
the problem is brought more officially into the fore- 
ground of the play, while each act is more closely 
connected with those which follow or precede it. 
Fedor Denner, a romantic young journalist (nearly 
all Schnitzler's young men are highly romantic), is 
in love with Fanny, a young actress on the threshold 
of theatrical success, and of those dangers which 
follow so closely in the wake of theatrical suc- 
cess. Fedor, moreover, is not only romantic, he 
is modern ultra-modern. And so, in the inspiring 
atmosphere of Fanny's home circle, where the mother 
bustles about with the refreshments and the " good " 
piano-teacher of a sister discourses music for the 
edification of the journalists, painters, and students 
who frequent 1 the house, he gives an impassioned little 
lecture on the " Fairy Tale of the Fallen Woman " 
and on the " washed-out views and dead-beat ideas " 
of which the fairy tale is composed. The little 
lecture, however, goes off just a little too successfully. 
In a climax, marvellous in its tacit concentration, 
Fanny takes an opportunity of kissing his hand. 
Fedor is revolted, however, by the revelation implied 
in this pathetic gratitude. He had contemplated 

marriage, but now For the time being he 

nurses in solitary misery all the pangs of retro- 
spective jealousy. Then Fanny, unable to bear the 
separation, rushes headlong into his arms. Then 
comes the great act of the play. We are back once 
more in the house of Fanny's mother. The young 
actress, having scored a brilliant success on the 
Vienna stage, has been offered a splendid contract 
in St. Petersburg by Moritzki, the agent. If, how- 
ever, she goes to St. Petersburg, she will have to 
face the pains and pleasures of life unsheltered by 
the respectability of a family. The problem is 


acute. Fanny, however, places the Fate of her life 
on the knees of Fedor. And Fedor shuffles and 

Fanny. Come, and you what do you say yourself? 

Fedor. After you have received Herr Moritzki at the house 
you can scarcely seriously mean to refuse him. 

Fanny. Herr Denner, I consider you an exceptionally shrewd 
man, I ask you for your advice. 

Fedor. Yes, I think ... I would accept. 

Fanny. Good ! {To Moritzki.] Herr Moritzki. 

Woman-like, however, having signed the contract, 
she craves time to reconsider. Fedor looks at it again. 

Fanny. Fedor you gave me the contract back. 

Fedor. Well, yes. 

Fanny. You should have torn it up, dear. Why didn't you do it ? 

Fedor. You should not have signed it, Fanny. 

Fanny. Fedor ! It is unbearable you're driving me out of my 

Fedor. But you yourself don't quite know your own mind. 
There's something in you which craves for adventures. 

Fanny. Fedor if you would only put me to the test I will do 
anything you want only tell me. 

And then, eventually, Fedor owns up. 

Fedor. Would I not still have to kiss away from your lips the 
kisses of other men ? 

And so Fanny forsakes the life of domesticity for 
the life of the actress. 

The chief defect, however, in this play is that, in 
spite of all its dramatic compound of psychology, 
pathos, and problem, the problem is not fairly pre- 
sented, in that Fanny, being of inferior social status 
to Fedor, the question of whether he shall marry 
her must inevitably be influenced by purely snobbish 
considerations. It is only when the woman is of 
equal, if not slightly superior, rank to the man that 
the real problem of her ante-nuptial chastity can be 
discussed with real sociological fairness. 


In Die Vermachtniss (produced in Berlin in 1898), 
the problem which our dramatist has made the centre 
of his play is the relation to the family of the mistress 
and child of the dead son of the house. The dash- 
ing young cavalry officer is brought home fatally 
wounded from a fall from his horse. Realising his 
approaching death, he informs his parents of his 
responsibilities. Death raises the home circle to a 
pitch of more than ordinary humanity. In spite of 
their poignant jealousy at the existence of other 
affections and another home life, they send for their 
son's household, and accede to his dying request to 
incorporate it into the family. 

Act II shows the mistress installed in the bosom 
of her lover's family. Modernity, however, though 
satisfying to the heroic pose, has its penalties. Our 
ultra-modern family finds itself confronted with 
social ostracism. Still, they love their grandchild, 
and the mother of the grandchild is the price that 
they must pay. But the grandchild dies. The semi- 
official daughter-in-law consequently becomes a some- 
what unprofitable luxury, and in the final act is given 
her conge. Even more than in Liebelei, however, the 
claim to merit lies almost exclusively in the precision 
with which each successive phase of the problem is 
portrayed. As a series of family pictures, the play 
succeeds, and succeeds brilliantly ; as a drama of 
continuous interest, it fails, and fails hopelessly. 

The next play of Schnitzler is The Veil of Beatrice. 
This " tragedy of sensualism " has qualities too 
arresting to be lightly disregarded. The dramatist 
has forsaken his problems to portray how the fatal 
temperament of a young girl of the Italian Renais- 
sance works out its own destruction. 

In the first act, we are shown the garden of Filippo, 
a poet of Bologna, which is on the eve of being 


plundered by the enemy. The heads on Bolognese 
shoulders are worth little purchase, and who leaves 
not the town to-night will never leave the town at 
all. The Duke invites Filippo to the palace to recite 
his poems. Filippo refuses, so that he may leave the 
city of doom with his beloved Beatrice, a daughter of 
the people. On learning, however, that Beatrice has 
dreamt of the Duke, he spurns her in an egoistic 
paroxysm of refined jealousy, typical in its subtlety 
more of the twentieth century than the Renaissance. 

" So much I give thee, more than thou canst dream, 
So much that to be worthy of my love, 
Loathing should fasten on thee at the thought 
This earth is trod by other men than I." 

Beatrice leaves him with the vague intimation 

" Feel I that without thee I cannot live 
And have desire for death, I come again 
To take thee with me." 

In the second act, Beatrice is on the point of 
marrying her legitimate suitor, Vittorino, and escap- 
ing from the town, when the Duke appears and 
proposes to exercise the jus ultimce noctis. Owing 
to the remonstrances of her brother Francesco, he 
generously offers to relinquish his intentions. Beatrice 
is bidden to go on her way, but stands riveted to the 
spot by a fatalistic impulse to realise her dream. And 
what is more, she insists on being the wife of the Duke. 
Her wish is granted. The nuptials are celebrated by 
a gigantic fete in the palace, whose doors are thrown 
open to rich and poor. Beatrice, however, with 
the placid naivete of her will-less temperament, flies to 

" What boots it, 
Were I this eve an empress to whom worlds 
Bowed, or the callat of a fool ? For I 
Am with thee now to die by thine own side." 


Filippo pretends to poison both her and himself, 
and on her discovering the ruse, commits suicide in 
earnest. Beatrice rushes back to the palace, but 
discovering that she has left behind that priceless veil 
which was the wedding-gift of her husband, leads 
back the Duke to the chamber of love and death. 
The living is confronted with the dead rival, and the 
indignant Francesco slays his sister. 

The power of this tragedy, however, lies not so 
much in the actual plot or even in the marvellous 
delineation of Beatrice, gracefully and innocently 
childish in the very irresponsibility of her fated sin, 
as in the rich tints of the picture and the gorgeous 
frame in which the picture is set. All the multi- 
coloured elements of the Renaissance take their place 
in the vivid scheme poets, sculptors, courtiers, 
courtesans, soldiers, and populace. Annihilation and 
vitality grow each more grandiose from their mutual 
juxtaposition, and the red blood of life flows but the 
quicker and the warmer beneath the black shadow 
of doom. Few more eloquent tragedies have been 
written on the great twin themes : " In the midst of 
life we are in death ; in the midst of death we are in 

Reverting back to prose, we come to Der Einsame 
Weg {The Lonely Way, 1903). If, however, the 
tendency to import the methods of the short story 
and the long novel were apparent in Liebelei and 
Vertndchtniss, it is even more marked in this play. A 
son, finding a sire in the shape of the middle-aged lover 
of his now dead mother, repudiates the natural for 
the putative father ; a neurotic and over-sexed young 
girl, finding that her lover, unknown to himself, is 
suffering from an incurable disease, dies by her own 
act. These are the two motifs, knit together by no shred 
of logical connection, which form the threads on which 


the drama is hung. Yet, if here we have Schnitzler 
at his worst, the many excellences even of this play 
attest by implication the merits of Schnitzler at his 
best. The scene between father and son is a sheer 
masterpiece. How delicately does the father inti- 
mate that ** mothers also have their destinies like 
other women." And how complete is his rejection. 

Julian. It is now absolutely impossible for you to forget that 
you are my son. 

Felix. Your son it is nothing but a word it is a mere empty 
sound I know it, but I don't realise it. 

Julian. Felix ! 

Felix. You are further away from me since I know it. 

Interesting, again, is the Nietzschean sanction for 
intrigue : " One has the right to exploit to the com- 
pletest extent all one's life with all the ecstasy and all 
the shame which is involved." 

Far superior, however, to Der Einsame Weg, with 
its heavy Ibsenite atmosphere, is Zwischenspiel (1905), 
where that problem of the quadrangle, compared to 
which that of the triangle is from the more advanced 
standpoint but vieux j'eu, is treated with the most 
delicate and biting raillery. Victor Amadeus, the 
pianist, and his wife Cecilie, the singer, love each 
other with as much genuine constancy as can be 
expected from normal persons of the artistic tempera- 
ment. Victor Amadeus, however, philanders with a 
countess, and his wife with a prince. Mutual jealousy ! 
Too civilised, however, to interfere by any display of 
primitive emotion with the sacred love of the new 
modernity, they grant each other, on general principles, 
carte blanche. And so, at the end of Act I, they 
separate for their mutual holiday. Henceforward the 
husband and wife are to be the most Platonic of 
comrades. The necessities of their professional en- 
gagements, however, bring about their meeting in 


their old home. But the affair with the countess is 
dead, and the affair with the prince has apparently 
not yet matured. Then do Victor Amadeus and 
Cecilie forget the ultra-modern theories which they 
are bound in duty to exemplify, and only realise that 
they are man and woman. Bursting with his new 
humanity, Victor Amadeus begins in the third act to 
be quite jealous of the prince. His astonishment 
can consequently be imagined when his Serene High- 
ness presents himself to ask the husband formally for 
the hand of the wife. On the situation being ex- 
plained to him, the prince gracefully retires, gallant 
gentleman that he is. But the reunited pair cannot 
live happily ever after. Cecilie, it is true, had been 
faithful, but faithful, she explains, by the narrowest of 
margins. She cannot guarantee the future ; and does 
not history repeat itself ? True, they had loved each 
other, but what love can be proof against the theories 
of the newer sexual ethics ? 

" If we had only before," says Cecilie, " shrieked 
into each other's faces our rage, our bitterness, our 
despair, instead of posing as superior people who 
never lost their heads, then we should have been true 
to ourselves and that we never were." 

And so that parting, taking place, as it does, when 
all barriers but their two selves have disappeared, 
rings down the curtain on this most brilliant of 
satires on the ultra-modern. 

On almost as high a level is Der Freiwild, a piece 
which gains an added interest from the fact that it 
has not only been censored because an army officer is 
given a box on the ears, but that the actors on one 
occasion refused to play it till solemnly assured by 
the author that the apparent realism of the portrayal 
of the procurer-impresario was, after all, merely poetic 
licence. The play is a vehement satire on the duel. 


In a scene marvellous in its ingenious stagecraft and 
airy atmosphere, we are shown the picturesque 
gardens of an Austrian pleasure resort. Close by is 
the local theatre, where musical comedy is performed 
for the entertainment of officers. One of the actresses, 
however, Anna, shocks all orthodox traditions by 
refusing to participate in that social life which, accord- 
ing to the manager, is the sacred duty of the efficient 
chorus girl. For Anna, Paul Rohring, an analytical 
painter, entertains feelings which are quixotic, and 
Karinksy, a heavy bully of a fire-eater, feelings typical 
of a less exalted Don. But the overtures of Karinsky 
are rebuffed ignominiously. Rohring cannot repress 
the smile of sarcastic triumph. The discomfited 
lady-killer, aspersing the name of Anna with an in- 
solent gaucherie, has his ears boxed for his pains. 
The inevitable challenge is brought to Rohring by 
one Poldi, the complete exponent of punctilious 
aristocracy, the past-master in all the intricacies of 
the duelli codex, the super-gentleman. But Rohring, 
who is anxious to marry Anna and live a long and 
happy life, rejects the inevitable challenge. Genuine 
consternation on the part of Poldi, who explains that 
the unpurged shame of the box on the ears spells 
ruin to Karinski's military career. Poldi proposes a 
compromise the solemn farce of a bloodless duel. 
Rohring, however, disdains playing dummy parts in 
solemn farces. It is all madness. It is in vain that 
the incarnation of military honour expostulates. 

For you it is madness, but others have grown 
up in this madness ; what is madness to you is for 
others the very element in which they live." 

Finally, Rohring is given to understand that, unless 
he flees, the outraged Karinski will shoot him at sight. 
But with a somewhat human perversity our heroic 
painter refuses to run away. An encounter a VAtneri- 


caine takes place in the gardens, but Rohring, draw- 
ing just a second too late, is shot dead. And now, 
as orthodox applause to the red-handed, cold-blooded 
murderer, comes from the mouth of Karinski's own 
friend in six words the indictment of the duel, 
irrevocably damning in the cold subtlety of its satire : 
" And now you have won back your honour." 

If, however, in this play Schnitzler proved his 
ability to write a problem drama which should be 
something more than a mere series of isolated phases, 
we find again in his next play, The Call of Life, in 
spite of its many excellences, the old taint of the 

- The motif of the play is the claim of the desire 
for life to ride rough-shod over all other claims. A 
beautiful daughter is wasting the best years of her 
life in the care of a querulous father, incurably ill, 
but never dying. The little garrison town is agog 
with the excitement of a newly declared war. This 
war, moreover, has a special interest, in that the 
local regiment, the Blue Cuirassiers, had in the last 
war, by ignominious flight, branded itself with shame. 
Though this episode took place over thirty years ago 
and none of the actual renegades are now in the 
regiment, the Blue Hussars, with that inflated idea 
of honour only found in Teutonic countries, resolve 
to purge the disgrace by dying gloriously in the 
front of the fray. Among the officers is Lieutenant 
Max, who has cast on Marie, the beautiful daughter, 
eyes of admiration. Irony, moreover, sharpens the 
situation when the bedridden father, who was once 
a member of the Blue Cuirassiers, explains he 
himself was responsible for the historic flight. 

" What was the good of it ? Who would have thanked me ? 
They would have put me in a grave with a thousand others and 
piled the earth on top, and that would have been the end of iL 


And I wouldn't have it. I wanted to live to live like others. 
I wanted to have a wife and children and live. And so I rushed 
from the field ; and so it has happened that the young men whom 
I don't know are going to their death and that I still live on at 
seventy-nine and will survive them all all all." 

The old soldier, however, is unduly sanguine as 
to the protraction of his life, for the same call of 
life which ordered him from the battle orders his 
daughter to pour poison into the water for which he 
now craves. 

It is outside the purpose of this essay to argue 
the ethics of this precipitation of the inevitable. 
Suffice it that it constitutes a most efficient curtain 
a curtain, however, so efficient that there seems no 
compelling necessity for a continuation of the play. 
A continuation, however, there is, and in the rooms 
of Max, which are visited at night by Marie, who 
ensconces herself behind a curtain. She sees the 
major's wife come to urge a vain prayer that he 
should desert the army and elope with her. They 
are discovered by the major, who, shooting the wife, 
spares the lover. It is, however, when the major 
leaves that we understand the intense hypertrophy 
of life evoked by imminent death. Marie, knowing 
all, yet presents herself. Max can only realise that his 
life has but a few remaining hours, and that these 
remaining hours stand now before him. Another 
curtain, strong, if slightly crude, yet followed by a 
third act, which is nothing but an epilogue. 

This somewhat exaggerated scorn, however, of 
such of the more complicated effects of theatricalism 
as are manifested in the ingenious concatenation of 
the plot, or the representation of sensational incidents 
which have no justification but their own inherent 
dramatic force, fails absolutely to affect Schnitzler's 
position as a writer of one-act plays. Indeed, it is 


his subordination of plot to atmosphere that consti- 
tutes in this sphere his paramount excellence. As, 
moreover, Mr. Henry James in his Embarrassments and 
Terminations wrote short stories independent in them- 
selves yet harmonising with some permeating motif, so 
has Schnitzler in his Anatol, Marionetten, and Lebendigen 
Stunden given us symmetrical one-act sequences. 

Let us deal first with the Anatol-Cyclus, a series 
of one-acters portraying the amoristic vicissitudes of 
a fin de siecle sentimentalist, flitting prettily from heart 
to heart, till he is eventually encompassed by the 
matrimonial net. Little action weighs down these 
delicate pieces. Anatol and the flame of the moment 
participate in a dialogue, or Anatol appeals to the 
worldly wisdom of his friend Max to rescue him from 
some dilemma in which he has been landed by his 
own weakness or his own folly. That is all. Yet 
each piece sheds a little more light upon the holy of 
holies of Anatol's heart, and illumines with equal 
clarity and colour the charm and individuality of 
each successive priestess of the temple. Though no 
doubt the chief effect of the cycle lies in its accumu- 
lative force, some idea of the general airiness and 
brilliance may perhaps be obtained by a short sketch 
of two of the most striking. In The Question to Fate 
Anatol confides to Max his anxiety. Does the flame 
of the moment burn true and for him alone ? By 
hypnotism he proposes to extract from his uncon- 
scious love that answer which will make him either 
the happiest or the most miserable of mankind. 
Cora enters, and is duly soothed into a hypnotic 
trance. Anatol, however, insists on being left alone 
with her at this critical moment of his fate, so Max 
retires into the adjoining room. And now, when 
the helpless girl is ready to answer every question, 
and, what is more, to answer it with automatic 



accuracy, and the book of truth lies ready in his 
trembling hand, the seeker of knowledge has not the 
courage to know. Waking her up with a kiss, he 
expresses complete reassurance to the re-entering 
Max. Cora, however, manifests a perhaps intelligible 
anxiety as to the nature of her answers. 

In the Farewell Supper, the scene of which is laid 
in the cabinet particulier of a Viennese restaurant, 
Anatol describes to Max the ineffable woes of being 
on with the new love before he is off with the old. 
What a strain it is, moreover, to be compelled to eat 
two suppers every night ! However, he and Anna 
(the old love) had at the initiation of their romance 
arranged to confide to each other the first symptom 
of approaching ennui. To-night at this supper he 
will tactfully intimate that she is no longer indispen- 
sable to his soul's happiness. He implores Max to 
stay as the helpful buffer in an inevitable scene. Enter 
Anna, fresh from the stage and hungry for oysters. 
The pangs of starvation temporarily appeased, Anna 
announces that she has something important to com- 
municate. She has grown tired of Anatol and fallen 
in love with another. She hopes he will not mind, 
but better she should tell him now than when it was too 
late. Collapse of Max into uproarious laughter. With 
pique mingling with his relief, Anatol rises to the occa- 
sion, professing the righteous indignation of a wounded 
spirit. To vindicate his armour-propre, he contemptu- 
ously informs her that he too has fallen in love with 
another, but as far as he is concerned his confession 
does come too late. " Only a man could be so brutal," 
retorts Anna ; " a woman would never be so tactless 
as to say anything so crude." And so the comedy 
ends with the girl carrying off the remains of the 
supper to her cavalier round the corner. 

The whole cycle, however, should be read to 


appreciate the racy ripple of the dialogue, the subtle 
malice of the characterisation, and the general verve 
and irony of these most sparkling of comedies. 

Perhaps at this moment it may be convenient just 
to mention the audacious psychology of the super- 
Boccacian Reigen. English decorum, no doubt, for- 
bids anything but the most casual allusion to this 
sequence of duologues, where all the members of 
the social hierarchy are linked together by participa- 
tion in the same eternal plot. 

Yet in its way, this book, written originally for a 
select circle and subsequently published by universal 
request, is one of the most refined feats of intel- 
lectualism which Schnitzler has ever performed. For 
the delicacy of the style is in inverse ratio to the 
delicacy of the subject-matter, and the various 
nuances of social technique are described and 
differentiated with the masterly touch of combined 
experience and intuition. Scarcely suited, no doubt, 
as a Sunday School prize, the book will, none the 
less, well repay perusal by modern men and women 
of the modern world. 

The series Marionetien, to which allusion has already 
been made, has for its motif the ironic tragedy of 
those who essay to manipulate the lives of others. 
The best of three plays is The Puppet-player. To the 
happy fireside of Eduard and Anna there is intro- 
duced an old friend, George Merklin, whom the 
husband had casually encountered. Merklin is a 
picturesque, if battered, Bohemian who encircles 
himself somewhat showily with a halo of alleged 
mysticism. The whole art of the dramatist, however, 
in this little piece is devoted to creating an atmos- 
phere of light melancholy, in which the poetic isola- 
tion of the second-rate genius, Merklin, stands in 
vivid contrast to the prosaic happiness of his less 


gifted friend. The climax comes when it transpires 
that Merklin had loved Anna in the past and had 
brought the two together by way of a psychological 
experiment at a Bohemian supper. 

" The little girl who was so nice to you simply did what I wished. 
You two were the puppets in my hand. I pulled the strings. It 
was arranged that she should pretend to be in love with you. For 
you always roused my sympathy, my dear Eduard ; I wanted to 
awake in you the illusion of happiness, so that you should be 
ready for true happiness^when you found it." 

And so this shoddy superman goes out into this 
lonely world, having played with the fates of others 
only to have played away his own life's happiness. 

Perhaps, however, Schnitzler's most characteristic 
series of one-acters is the one headed Lebendige 
Stunden. Life should be weighed as much by quality 
as by quantity. One man can traverse more life 
in a few seconds than another in whole years. It is 
typical, however, of Schnitzler's method that he 
essays not merely to lead up to a violent climax 
by artifices of calculated stagecraft, but to set the 
vivid hour in an harmonious and poetic frame. The 
most striking of the series is the extraordinary 
fantasia, The Woman with the Dagger. 

Leonhardt, a seriously romantic youth, in ap- 
parently the full flush of his first grand passion, 
meets the wife of a dramatic author in the Renais- 
sance saloon of a picture gallery. Pre-eminent 
among the pictures on the wall is that of a woman 
robed in white, holding a dagger in her uplifted 
hand, and gazing at the floor as if there lay 
someone whom she had murdered. It is then 
in this atmosphere that our gallant urges his suit 
to the unresponsive Pauline, who coolly informs him 
that she has confessed to her husband that she is 
in danger, and that they are travelling away to-morrow. 


And then, as she is on the point of saying farewell, 
she stands before the picture. 

Pauline (looking closer). Who lies there in the shadow ? 

Leonhardt. Where? 

Pauline. Do you not see ? 

Leonhardt. I see nothing. 

Pauline. It is you. 

Leonhardt. I ? Pauline, what an extraordinary jest ! 

And then, as they look and look, they fall into 
an hypnotic trance and the clock of the world goes 
back some five hundred years. Pauline has become 
Paola, and Leonhardt, Lionardo, while the racy 
Viennese idiom is turned to classical blank verse. 
It is early dawn in the studio of the Master Remigio, 
and Remigio is away on his travels. Lionardo arro- 
gates the claims of love on the strength of the 
favours which he has just enjoyed. Paola spurns 
him as the mere mechanical toy of her passion. She 
loves and has always loved her husband. That this 
is no mere pose is apparent from the fact that on 
the sudden entrance of the husband she immediately 
elucidates the situation. Remigio, however, with 
a sublime tolerance, perhaps more typical of the 
husband in Mr. Shaw's Irrational Knot than of a hot- 
blooded Italian, pardons Paola on the general 
principles of twentieth-century philosophy. Lionardo, 
however, piqued and insulted as being regarded as 

" The glass, the poor mean glass 
From which a child drank a forbidden draught, 
The merest pitiful tool of a chance and fate," 

vows vengeance on Remigio. Paola anticipates this 
vengeance by killing Lionardo on the spot with a 
dagger, thus exemplifying the pose of the picture. 
Remigio rises to the occasion and seizes on this 
splendidly tragic attitude to complete an unfinished 
portrait of this loyalest of wives. 


And then they awaken from their trance. But 
the magnet of destiny draws them inexorably. 
Pauline grants the assignation, with an air, however, 
of mystic fatality, which shows only too well with 
what precision the present must once again mirror 
the past. 

But perhaps the most sustained and elaborated 
specimen of our author's method is the ironic 
tragedy of the French Revolution, The Green Cockatoo. 
The " Green Cockatoo " is an underground tavern 
where brilliant, if disreputable, actors give, for the 
edification of their aristocratic audiences, impromptu 
representations of crime and vice. 

Henri, the star-man, moreover, has just married 
the actress Leocadie, not for the sake of paradox, but 
in all seriousness. When his turn comes, he rushes 
on to the stage shouting out that he found his wife, 
Leocadie, with her lover the duke, and killed her. 
Such a calamity being not apparently prima facte 
improbable, even the manager is almost as alarmed 
as the audience, till he realises that the whole thing 
is but an histrionic tour deforce. And then, as the play 
progresses, the atmosphere becomes more and more 
lurid with impending gloom. Jest and reality inter- 
mingle in the subtlest of ironies. It is part of the 
entertainment that the ragamuffins should lavish on 
their patrons the freest of insults. But is there not 
a paradox within the paradox, when one remembers 
that the Bastille has fallen that very day ? The 
various types, moreover, of an aristocracy exhibiting 
the levity of people who are shortly going to be 
hanged are delightfully portrayed the viveur, " for 
whom every day is lost in which he has not captured 
a woman or killed a man," the pretty young noble 
whose corrupt flirtation is so deftly adumbrated, and 
the lascivious grande dame, who, in spite of her 


husband's anxiety, is very far from shocked at these 
spectacular novelties. And then Henri snaps up the 
truth from the demeanour of the manager and his 
colleagues. The Duke comes on to the stage and 
the actor then gives yet another representation of the 
avenging husband and this time he surpasses him- 
self, for he is but acting the truth. 

Less sensational, but of equal psychological grim- 
ness, is the play The Mate, which is in the same 
series as the Green Cockatoo. The theme is the 
pathetic irony of the illusion of a middle-aged pro- 
fessor, who gives an almost paternal benediction to 
what he fondly imagines to be the grand passion of 
his young and temperamental wife. When, conse- 
quently, his wife dies suddenly, the husband is 
prepared quite honestly to condole with the lover, 
for after all has he not a right to be pitied even 
more than himself ? When, therefore, he learns 
from his young colleague that he has just become 
engaged to another girl with whom he has been 
in love for some time his righteous indignation is 

" I would have raised you from the ground if you had been 
broken by grief. I would have gone with you to her grave, if the 
woman who is lying over there had been your love ; but you have 
turned her into your wanton, and you have filled this house with 
lies and foulness right up to the roof till it makes me sick and 
that's why that's why, yes, that's why I'm going to kick you 

But there is an anti-climax within an anti-climax, 
for the man learns from a mutual woman friend of 
the dead woman and of himself, that the imagined 
grande passion had been even from the standpoint of 
the lady nothing more or less than a miserable 
trumpery adventure. 

Reverting now to Schnitzler's longer plays, some 


mention should be made of Komtesse Mizzi, Der 
Junge Medardus, and, above all, Das Weites Land. 

Komtesse Mizzi, entitled, appropriately enough, (t A 
Family Day" is in form a one-acter, though of 
sufficient length and substance to have obtained 
separate publication. There is little, if any, action. 
The play is based on character, dialogue, and situa- 
tion. Yet it possesses distinct psychological titra- 
tion in its presentation of a daughter who takes a 
filial interest in her father's "actress-mistress," and 
who is sensible enough, aristocrat though she is, to 
meet the lady herself with all friendliness, and chat 
with her as woman to woman without the slightest 
affectation. This feminine freemasonry, however, is 
perhaps explained by the fact that the countess her- 
self has lived her own life, to such good effect that 
she is the mother of a grown-up boy by her father's 
best friend, Prince Egon. When, consequently, the 
prince introduces the boy as his own natural child 
by an unknown mother, the atmosphere becomes 
somewhat rare. At first highly irritated, she treats 
with frigid indifference the frank exuberant youth, 
who divines the truth with instinctive intuition, only, 
however, shortly afterwards to consent to marry the 
prince, and thus become the official stepmother of 
her own long-lost child. The racy worldly optimism 
of this play is particularly characteristic of the 
essentially benevolent malice of the Schnitzlerian 

Of a totally different order is Der Junge Medardus, a 
long play of historical patriotism, specially written 
for the respectable and official Burg Theater of 
Vienna. It might seem indeed at first sight that 
Schnitzler, the refined, ultra-modern analyst, would 
be somewhat out of his element amid all the blood 
and thunder of the Napoleonic campaigns, which prima 


facie offer but small scope for psychological subtleties. 
The tour de force consequently becomes all the more 
creditable when the author, in spite of all his trappings 
of patriotic melodrama, manages successfully to 
execute his own favourite tricks. The canvas on 
which this drama is portrayed is so vast as to render 
any synopsis necessarily inadequate. The idyll, how- 
ever, and double suicide of the young French prince 
Franz and the bourgeois girl Agatha, is one of the 
purest and sweetest love episodes which Schnitzler 
has ever written. But it is Agatha's brother, 
the young, brave, and picturesque Medardus, who 
provides the most precious examples of recherche 
psychology. The suicide of the dead couple, Agatha 
and Franz, had been occasioned by the refusal of 
Franz's family to consent to the marriage. When, 
consequently, Franz's sister, Helene (a character 
somewhat analogous to Mathilde de la Mole in 
Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir) wishes to put flowers 
on the graves of the dead pair, Medardus refuses to 
allow her. Helene has him challenged by her suitor, 
but Medardus emerges triumphantly from the duel. 
Anxious to carry the war into the enemy's 
camp, and to redress the balance of the family 
account, he succeeds, by the dashing conquest of the 
most perilous difficulties, in becoming the lover of 
Helene, with the eventual object of rousing the whole 
household and flaunting to her own family the 
haughty girl's dishonour. Helene, however, is erratic 
in her favours. Medardus, like Julien, is scorched 
by his own fire. The ending, moreover, of the play, 
though extremely effective theatrically, strikes us 
from the psychological standpoint as distinctly false. 
Helene and Medardus both plot to assassinate 
Napoleon. Hearing that Helene is Napoleon's 
mistress, Medardus kills her instead of Napoleon. 


So far, so good. But when our quixotic hero, 
when offered a free pardon on the sole condition 
that he undertakes to make no further attempt 
against Napoleon's life, obstinately refuses to give 
the required word, one can only say that he is 
observing the etiquette neither of melodrama nor 
even of life, but solely of patriotic tragedy. 

But of all the longer plays of Schnitzler, the best 
and most distinctive in that erotic " General Post " 
entitled Das Weite Land (The Wide Country). This 
drama, which is the only full-dress drawing-room 
comedy which Schnitzler has written, belongs to what 
we have already designated as the " slice of life " 
school. It depends for its convincingness neither on 
any particularly drastic situation nor on the dispro- 
portionate merit of any individual act. The author 
simply takes a group of representative modern people, 
rich, intellectual, and energetic, and shows the respec- 
tive crossings and intertwinings of their various lives. 
The complexity of the intrigue is overwhelming, not 
to say bewildering, for practically every character, 
from the prolific Aigon to the virginal Erna, and from 
the active business man Friedrich to his polyandrous 
wife Genia, is subject to one or more erotic moods, 
with whose more or less simultaneous conjugation in 
the past, present, and future tenses the play specifically 
deals. Though, too, all the characters lead emotional 
lives, they deserve credit in that they none of them 
wear their souls upon their sleeves, or carry their 
temperaments in their pockets with the ostentatious 
affectation of those Sudermannic personages who 
never for a moment lose the consciousness that they 
are living in an atmosphere of '* high problem." For 
the people with whom we have now to deal are so 
occupied with the concrete acts of their actual lives 
that they have little time to waste in mere airy gener- 


alities. When consequently they do philosophise, 
shortly, crisply, and in the light of personal experience, 
they are for that very reason all the more convincing. 
The whole motif of this play, where the spirits of 
Congreve and Henry James seem to amalgamate in 
so strange but yet so harmonious a compound, is well 
crystallised in the following quotation : * Love and 
deception faithfulness and unfaithfulness adora- 
tion for one woman and desire for another woman or 
several others, yes, my good Hofreiter, the soul is a 
wide country." 

As can be seen from these tolerant words, which 
have all the greater force in that the man who speaks 
them is at any rate temporarily more or less in love 
with his friend's wife, the mood in which the problem 
of promiscuity is treated is less one of indignant 
satire than of an ironic charity, which, while finding 
the complications at once comic and tragic, yet assigns 
to every phase of love from the kiss Friedrich gave to 
Erna three thousand metres above the sea, to Otto's 
nocturnal escalades of Genia's room, its own specific 
emotional value, even though the final verdict is to 
be found in the words of the middle-aged Friedrich, 
refusing to elope with the twenty-year-old Erna : 
u Everything's an illusion ! " 

From the point of view, also, of concentrated 

crispness of dialogue and characterisation, Schnitzler 

has never achieved anything better than this play. 

How telling in particular is the dialogue between the 

mutually unfaithful spouses, Genia and Friedrich. 

The husband is interrogating his wife about a 

young Russian virtuoso who had just blown out his 


Genia. He was not my lover. I'm sorry to say he was not my 
lover. Is that enough for you ! 

Or take again the passage between Friedrich and 


Genia after Friedrich has just fought a fatal duel 
with the twenty-five year old naval officer, Otto. 

Genia. But why ? If you cared the least bit about me if it had 
been a case of hate if it had been jealousy love 

Fred. No I feel at any rate damned little of all that. But no 
man likes to be made an ass of. 

In his new asexual play, Professor Bernhardt, Schnitz- 
ler strikes out an entirely new line, leaves that light, 
airy sphere which he had made so peculiarly his own, 
and embarks into the grim realms of pure problem. 
The play is an avowed and deliberate tract in the 
manner of Granville Barker, Galsworthy, or Brieux. 
Yet however devoid it may be of those qualities which 
one is accustomed to label Schnitzlerian, it is the most 
earnest, the most ethical, the most convincing of all his 

Put shortly, the piece deals with an * affaire 
Dreyfus " in the medical profession. Professor Bern- 
hardi, a great Jewish doctor, has in the face of numer- 
ous obstacles succeeded in building up the prosperity 
of a new hospital, the Elisabethinum, treating mainly 
Catholic patients, but supported mainly by Jewish 
funds. A substantial percentage of the staff are 
Jewish, and it is instructive to observe how almost 
instinctively the Jews and Catholics range themselves 
into two camps. In the first act a Catholic girl is 
dying of septic poisoning as the result of some outside 
doctor's clumsy attempt to help her to escape the 
consequences of her own indiscretion. The patient 
herself, however, in a state of blissful delirium, con- 
fident of recovery, and expecting the speedy advent of 
her lover, is deriving the maximum of enjoyment out 
of the few minutes she has yet to live. Under these 
circumstances there arrives a Catholic priest, sent 
for, not by the girl but by a nurse, with the object 
of administering the last sacrament. Out of sheer 


humanity and medical conscientiousness, Professor 
Bernhardi is reluctant to have his patient's last hours 
marred by the realisation of her death and the shatter- 
ing of her happy dream. The Catholic priest is in- 
sistent. The Professor is politely firm. There is an 
animated dialogue in the course of which the Pro- 
fessor touches the priest very lightly on the shoulder, 
though there is nothing in the nature of an assault. 
In the meanwhile the patient dies comfortably. The 
Clerical and Anti-semitic parties exploit the incident 
with inaccurate though artistic journalistic embellish- 
ments. There is a tremendous uproar. The Gover- 
nors of the hospital threaten to resign. Under pressure 
from his friends, the Professor is willing to tender, 
not indeed an abject apology, but a polite explana- 
tion. The Clerical party thereupon blackmail him by 
threatening to raise the question in Parliament, if he 
does not secure the election to a vacant post on the 
hospital staff of a Catholic candidate who is on the 
one hand the protegS of the cousin of their leader, 
and on the other hand incompetent. Refusing to be 
a party to the job, Bernhardi secures the election to 
the post of a man who is both competent and a Jew. 
Bernhardi, moreover, relies on the personal assurance 
of Flint, the Minister for Education and Public 
Worship, that he will help him by his support in 
Parliament. When, however, matters came to a head, 
Flint, scenting in the middle of his speech with the 
divine flair of the true politician the actual state of 
public opinion, throws Bernhardi to the wolves and 
himself suggests a prosecution for sacrilege. The 
Executive Board of the hospital are divided as to 
what course they shall pursue. Shall they pass a 
vote of confidence in their chief, or, on the other hand, 
suspend him until the determination of the proceed- 
ings. By a fine stroke of irony Bernhardi realises 


that he will be in a minority through the vote of the 
very Jew through the conscientious insistence on 
whose election to the Board he had lost the proffered 
opportunity of bribing the Clericals and squaring the 
whole matter. He consequently resigns from the 
Board. The trial takes place. The priest himself 
denies that there was any assault. Bernhardi, how- 
ever, is defended by a converted Jew, who, sinking 
the advocate in the Catholic, conducts the case so 
lukewarmly that Bernhardi is convicted on the per- 
jured evidence of a vindictive colleague and a hysteri- 
cal lay sister. During the trial the priest is convinced 
that Bernhardi was morally right in the course which 
he adopted, but, as he feels subsequently driven as a 
matter of conscience to inform him, refrained out of 
sheer religious duty from telling the truth. Bern- 
hardi serves his term and becomes, much to his 
disgust, a political hero and a popular martyr. The 
hysterical lay sister eventually confesses her per- 
jury and Bernhardi is finally righted, though the final 
note in the play is that Bernhardi was really rather 
a fool to have involved himself in such grave 
consequences for the mere sake of a quixotic 
principle. Some portion possibly of the effect pro- 
duced by this play depends on the full appreciation 
of its personal allusions and some knowledge 
of the circumstances on which it was substanti- 
ally founded. Nevertheless, present symptoms 
would appear to indicate that this play will have 
especial interest, not only to Jews and Anti-Semites, 
but to impartial students of ethics and sociology. 
Though, moreover, " pure problem " and studded 
with long didactical speeches, the dramatic interest 
is well sustained, at any rate up to the fourth Act, 
while the different characters are distinguished with 
the sharpest precision. We would refer in particular 


to Flint, that delightfully bland opportunist, that 
benevolently unscrupulous politician, that perfectly 
conscientious hypocrite who honestly believes that 
there is a higher and larger duty both in politics and 
in life than the observance of one's own principles 
and the keeping of one's given word. 

Schnitzler, moreover, is not only a dramatist, but 
a writer of short stories and novels, which stand on 
practically as high a level as his plays. Like De 
Maupassant, Schnitzler has only one real motif. Un- 
like De Maupassant, however, it is the psychological 
complications in which he is chiefly interested. In 
further contrast, his short stories lack that inevitable 
precision of climax which is the chief mark of the 
French author. Yet perhaps it is for this very 
reason that, with their picturesque atmosphere and 
pathetic simplicity, they obtain an added reality. 
In the almost clinical minuteness of his psychology, 
explicable from the fact that he was once a doctor, 
he is reminiscent of Mr. Henry James, of a Mr. 
James, however, who writes without preciosity about 
individuals linked with ordinary human beings by 
very much more than just some shred of normality. 
Among his earlier short stories we would mention in 
particular Die Frau der Weisen, Das neue Lied, and 
the hypnotic fantasia at the beginning of Dammerseelen. 

The more recent series, Masken und Wunder, also 
possesses a well-merited claim to recognition for its 
series of studies, some modern, some symbolical, yet 
all written with that almost intangible softness, com- 
bined at the same time with a certain neat strength, 
which is the essential mark of Schnitzler's literary 
style. One of the most striking is the telepathic 
romance, Redegondds Diary ; but in our view the best 
short story in the whole book is that Maupassantian 
Death of the Bachelor where the three intimate friends 


of a dead man are summoned to his bedside, only to 
find their friend dead and to read in a letter ad- 
dressed to them all, of the three separate yet identical 
domestic reasons which were responsible for their 
participation in this superb piece of posthumous 

Far more significant than any of his short 
stories is Schnitzler's comparatively recent novel, 
Der IVeg ins Freie (The Road to the Open), a 
novel which both by its actual success and its 
intrinsic merit, stands out conspicuously among 
modern German literature. This book is an admir- 
able example of what one can perhaps call the 
u slice of life " novel. Actual plot in the stereotyped 
sense of the term it has none. Georg von Wergen- 
thin, a young aristocratic Viennese dilettante, has, in 
the course of an active emotional life, a fairly serious 
liaison with Anna Rosner, a music-mistress belonging 
to a good Jewish set. The child to which Anna and 
Georg had both been looking forward, though in 
somewhat varying degrees, dies. Georg accepts a 
post of conductor in a German town. Anna re- 
assumes the normal tenor of her spinster life. 
Finis. Neither conventional marriage nor even 
more conventional suicide, but just life, a slice of 
sheer probable real convincing life. But the book 
is far more than the history of Anna, and far more 
than the history of Georg, even though it would 
appear at first sight that the enumeration of Georg's 
emotions tends somewhat to swamp the four hundred 
and sixty pages of this novel which yet reads so 
shortly. For Georg's soul is a mirror which reflects 
not only itself but a considerable number of the 
more interesting characters of a specific modern 
Viennese set. And the lives of Anna and Georg 
touch the lives of numerous other persons, persons 


too who, at any rate, give the impression of being 
no mere characters in novels, but of having been 
honourably plagiarised, and without suffering either 
caricature or idealisation in the process, from the 
pages of the book of life itself. And all these 
various lives are followed up and adumbrated and 
described at greater or lesser detail. Of course they 
have nothing to do with the story of Georg von 
Wergenthin. But they play an important part in 
the life of Georg von Wergenthin, just as he plays a 
more or less important part in their existence. And 
though of course Georg is the nominal hero of the 
book, it is the modern Jewish set with, of course, its 
Gentile appanages which constitutes the real subject- 
matter. And how vivid and interesting on their 
merits are all these characters old Ehrenberg, the 
Jewish millionaire, with his delightful habit of talking 
Yiddish before smart company, specially to annoy 
his snobbish son Oskar j Oskar himself, who, on being 
caught by his father in the flagrant act of posing as a 
Catholic in front of a church and given a box on the 
ears by way of reproof, makes an abortive attempt 
to commit hara-kiri with a revolver ; Else Ehrenberg, 
the temperamental, but unmarried sister of Oskar ; 
Heinrich Bermann, the brilliant self-centred author, 
with his grand passion for his faithless actress in the 
foreign town ; Leo Golowski, the enthusiastic Zionist ; 
Therese Golowski, the Socialist agitatress, with her 
temporary trip with that fascinating hussar-officer, 
Demeter Stanzides ; Winternitz, the poet, with his 
not very soigne hands and his naif mania for reciting 
his own erotic verses ; Dr. Stauber, the benevolent 
modern of the last generation ; Anna herself, with 
her soft wistfulness and her essential dignity ; Sissy 
Wyner, with her high wanton spirits and pretty 
English accent ; and of course Georg himself, Georg 



the aristocrat, Georg the grand amoureux, Georg the 
composer, Georg the dilettante, Georg the drifter, 
Georg the ineffectual. 

In the technique of this novel Schnitzler marks 
what we suggest to be a new departure, by the 
insertion of substantial slabs of past life into the 
analysis of his hero's thoughts, a process which by 
a tremendous economy of space and time thus de- 
scribes simultaneously the inner workings of Georg's 
mind, and simultaneously narrates important pieces 
of antecedent history which have no place in the 
official action of the novel. 

Some tribute, also, must be paid to the style, which 
is at times soft and sweet, at times light and crisp, 
yet always lucid, always individual, and always 
possessed of that gracefulness which is so rare a 
quality in German prose literature. 

To revert to Schnitzler the dramatist, what 
are his chief claims, his chief excellences, his chief 
defects ? It seems to us that the essence of his 
merit lies in the fact that, speaking broadly, he 
handles problems neither as ends in themselves, as 
do the more advanced of our own dramatists, nor 
yet, like Sudermann, as mere pegs on which to hang 
violently theatrical stage effects. Some problem 
may constitute the centre of most of his plays ; yet, 
with a few exceptions, this problem is not presented 
too nakedly or without sufficient relief. Each problem 
is bathed in an artistic atmosphere, and each char- 
acter in the picture limned with the most subtle 
psychology. It is true that, as has already been 
pointed out, many of the acts in his early longer 
dramas exhibit too strong a tendency to form self- 
independent pictures ; yet it is this defect which forms 
the chief charm of his one-acters. It is true that 
nearly all his characters are Bohemian artists, 


flaneurs, actresses, journalists, doctors, painters 
yet each author creates, as of right, the population 
of his own individual world ; and is it not rather a 
claim to glory to have attained such heights of 
dramatic celebrity without having written more than 
one single play specifically devoted to fashionable 
life ? It is true that the ethics of these plays, with 
their chronic and inevitable intrigues, may strike 
the English mind as somewhat unusual ; yet Schnitz- 
ler enjoys the reputation of being the most brilliant 
and accurate portrayer of contemporary Viennese 
life. It is, moreover, in the nature of all problem 
plays .that they should be pieces of special pleading, 
where the other side is allowed just so much of 
a hearing as will not permit of its convincing. After 
all, from the standpoint of dramatic art, that which 
counts is not the ethics, but the presentation of the 

Yet, with all his subtlety and all his problems, he 
is never heavy. Vienna stands intellectually nearer 
to Paris than to Berlin, so that the Teutonic intro- 
spection and sentimentalism are touched with a 
Gallic sprightliness and a Gallic grace. No dramatist 
has written tragedy with so light a hand, or comedy 
with so ironically pathetic a smile, as has Arthur 

mile verhaeren 

" Mais les plus exaltes se dirent dans leur coeur, 
' Partons quand meme avec notre ame inassouvie 
Puisque la force et que la vie 
Sont au dela des verites et des erreurs.' " 

" Vivre c'est prendre et donner avec Hesse. 
Toute la vie est dans l'essor." 

The above principles, prefixed to the Forces Tutnul- 
tueuses of Emile Verhaeren, are well fitted to supply 
the key to a man who both in thought and in tech- 
nique is indisputably the most modern and the most 
massive force in the whole of contemporary European 
poetry. For Verhaeren is no narrow specialist with 
an outlook limited to some particular sphere. He is 
the singer of the whole fulness of modern European 
life as a whole, with its clashes, its complexities, its 
agonies and its tensions, its deserted country-sides and 
its pullulating metropoles, its armaments and its Arma- 
geddons, its brothels, cathedrals, laboratories and 
Stock Exchanges, its sciences and its sensualities, its 
arts, philosophies and aspirations. His muse is no 
serene nymph piping delicately on some Parnassian 
slope, but an extremely tumultuous Amazon, at once 
primeval, and ultra-modern, chanting the paean of 
battle, steeped in the wine of victory, and suckling the 
supermen of the future on her universal breasts. No 
muse in the whole of literature is more highly charged 
with vitality, and no reader is qualified to enjoy her 
unless he, too, is charged to the maximum with " the 
red tonic liquor of a harsh and formidable reality." 

Let us then glance first at the early milieu of a 



man who combines the exultant fury of the lyric with 
the wide outlook of the cosmopolitan sociologist, 
and who can incidentally beat both Baudelaire and 
Wordsworth at their own respective game. 

Verhaeren was born on the 21st May 1855 at St. 
Amand in Belgium, one of the most strenuous countries 
in the modern world, which, it is interesting to re- 
member, holds the European record for sensualism, 
alcoholism, and clericalism. St. Amand is situated 
on the broad plains of the Scheldt, and it is not un- 
important to lay some stress on the Flemish ancestry 
and environment of a man who, though he wrote in 
the French language, is more Germanic than Gallic 
in his temperament, and who represents in the sphere 
of verse perhaps the nearest analogue to the crass 
majesty and red sensuality of Rubens. His early 
country upbringing, moreover, is responsible for that 
joie de vivre in the fields, and, above all, the wind, 
the symbolisation of fury and rebellion which was to 
inspire those nature lyrics, many of which are nearly 
as great, though by no means as interesting, as his 
cosmic and metropolitan poems. 

Verhaeren was originally intended for the priest- 
hood, and was educated at the Jesuit school of St. 
Barbe in Ghent, where he had for his schoolfellows 
such men as Maeterlinck, Van Lenbergh, and Roden- 
bach. Leaving school, he went to Brussels, where he 
felt " his multiplied heart grow and become exalted " 
with the roaring intensity of metropolitan life. All 
thoughts of a holy life were now abandoned, and in 
188 1 the poet was called to the Bar. His chief 
interests, however, were literature, Socialism, and 
Brussels life. Joining the Young Belgian group under 
the leadership of Edmond Picard, he became a fre- 
quent contributor to V Art Moderne and La Jcune 
Belgique. Politically he was a Socialist, associated 


himself with the Socialist leader Vandervelde, and 
was one of the founders of the philanthropic Maison 
des Peuples. 

But it was in the poetic representation of " the 
monstrous scenery of the crass Flemish Kermesses " 
(Les Flamandsy 1883) that Verhaeren gave the 
first vent to his violent virility. In this work a 
Rubensesque and Rabelaisian subject-matter is treated 
with poetic exaltation by a man who found in the 
great national festivals of past and present Flanders, 

" Des chocs de corps, des heurts de chair et des bourrades, 
Des lechements subis dans un etreignement," 

the same patriotic inspiration which Mr. G. K. Ches- 
terton has discovered in that beer ; into which he has, 
as it were, so successfully transubstantiated the whole 
national spirit of our English body-politic. Thus 
our poet wallows defiantly in the black roughness of 
his Flemish peasants : 

" Les voici noirs, grossiers, bestiaux ils sont tels," 

or casts regretful glances towards the healthier gross- 
ness of the artists of old Flanders : 

" Vos pinceaux ignoraient le fard, 
Les indecences, les malices, 
Et les sous-entendus de vice 
Qui clignent l'ceil dans notre art, 
Vos femmes suaient la sante", 
Rouge de sang blanche de graisse, 
Elles menaient les ruts en laisse 
Avec des airs de royaute." 

But these poems are far more than mere erotic or 
gastronomic diversions. Somewhat turgid, no doubt, 
with red health, they yet possess the same sweep and 
the same impetus with which Aristophanes himself 
once gave expression to the riotous fecundity of the 
earth and the Dionysian forces of nature. 


In Les Moines (The Monks, 1886), Verhaeren treats 
a subject-matter which prima facie would seem to 
denote the abandonment of the cult of the flesh for 
the cult of the spirit. Yet such veneration as the 
poet may ever have possessed for the Catholic creed 
was aesthetic rather than religious. He penetrates, 
it is true, into the " enormous shrine where the 
Middle Ages slumber," but it is less to worship than 
to describe in a rigid, but majestic prosody " the 
grand survivors of the Christian world " the 

" Moines venus vers nous des horizons gothiques 
Mais dont Tame mais dont l'esprit meurt de demain." 

Psychologically the interesting feature of this work 
is that, so far from being in any way obsessed 
by any Chestertonian nostalgia for a dead and 
mediaeval past, the poet anticipates with all apparent 
serenity the day when u the final blasphemy will 
have transpierced God like to an immense sword." 
Even, moreover, in these, as it were, antiquarian de- 
scriptions the poet emphasizes the contrast between 
the visionary life of the cloister (a life, albeit, where 

" Un repas colossal souffle fourneaux beants 
Eructant vers l'azur sa flamme et sa fumde ") 

and the real life of the outside world, and seems by 
no means unsympathetic to the rebellious monk who 

" Le ciel torride et le desert et l'air des monts 
Et les tentations en rut des vieux demons 
Agacant de leurs doigts la chair enfle'e des gouges 
En lui briilant la levre avec de grands seins rouges." 

Yet both Les Flamands and Les Moines seem quite 
innocent and playful in comparison with the great 
black trinity of Les Soirs, Les Debacles, and Les 
Flambeaux Noirs (188 7-1 891), in which Verhaeren 


gave expression to the mental and physical crisis 
which for a time seemed to imperil both his life and 
his reason. In these poems, many of which were 
written in London and its 

" Gares de suie et de fumee ou du gaz pleure 
Ses spleens d'argent lointain vers des chemins d'eclair, 
Oil des betes d'ennui baillent a l'heure 
Dolente immense'ment qui tinte a Westminster," 

Verhaeren leaves the objective mood of his earlier 
poems to clothe his soul in the Nessian shirt of the 
most poisonous subjectivity. But true tragic dignity 
stalks in the very extremity of his agony. Compared, 
indeed, with the gigantic bass of this unhappiness, 
black, definite, drastic, what is the grey wistfulness 
of Verlaine but the hysterical falsetto of a whining 
child ? Verhaeren, on the other hand, with the ecstatic 
defiance of a kind of Nietzschean Prometheus sets 
himself to plumb the lowest abysses of despair, and 
himself eggs on the eagles of torment to devour 
every shred of his own soul. With " brutal teeth of 
fire and madness he bites and outrages his own 
heart within him," lashes himself in his thought and 
in his blood, in his effort, in his hope, in his 
blasphemy : 

" Et quand leve le soir son calice de lie 
Je me le verse a boire insatiablement." 

Or take again the sinister gusto of the passage : 

" Aurai-j'enfin l'atroce joie 
De voir nuits apres nuits comme une proie 
La demence attaquer mon cerveau, 
Et detraque, malade, sorti de la prison 
Et des travaux forces de sa raison 
D'appareiller vers un lointain nouveau ? " 

The technique of these poems is worthy of 
some study. Having little use for the orthodox 
alexandrine (except in a few instances like Le Gel, 


where the icy massiveness of the blocked couplets 
faithfully mirrors the polar desolation of his own 
soul), he fashions his own metres to incarnate his 
own moods. Such a refrain as " Ce minuit dall6 
d'ennui " will boom out again and again the dull 
monotonous clank of his own weary spirit. At other 
times the grinding engines of a disorganised mind 
whirr and jar with spasmodic feverishness : 

" C'est l'heure ou les hallucine's, 
Les gueux, et les deracins 
Dressent leur orgueil dans la vie." 

Note, too, the ghastly effectiveness of the internal 
rhymes. Is not, for instance, such a line as 

" Les chiens du noir espoir ont above ce soir " 

a triple series, as it were, of metrical mirrors, where 
the bitten mind barks savagely back at its own 
mad image. Or listen to the Titanic thud of such 
a line as 

" La Mer choque ses blocs de flots contre les rocs," 

or the silent smash of 

" Dites suis-je seul avec mon ame, 
Mon ame helas maison d'dbene 
Ou s'est fendu sans bruit un soir 
Le grand miroir de mon espoir ? " 

At times transcending the blank negativity of despair, 
the poet will coquet positively with his own madness, 
as he wanders " hallucinated in the forest of num- 
bers," or wishes to march towards " madness and her 
suns, her white suns of moonlight in the great weird 
noon, and her distant echoes bitten by dins and bark- 
ings and full of vermilion hounds." Or abandoning 
the more specific formulation of his own emotions, he 
will give vent to his feelings by letting his brain dance 
upon the lurid boards of some macabre theme. The 
little poem, La Tite, is dank with all the smooth bloodi- 


ness of the guillotine, while the Dame en Noir, with the 
ghastly rhymes and assurances of its refrain, is swathed 
in a black pathos, in comparison with which the most 
lurid horrors of Baudelaire appear the mere artificial 
extravagances of a perverse mind. 

As we have already seen, the blackness of the 
trilogy which we have just considered was no mere 
dabbling in morbidity, but the genuine expression of 
a genuine unhappiness. In, however, Les Apparus 
dans Mes Chemins, Les Vignes de Ma Muraille the 
storm gradually exhausts itself, and is replaced by 
a more serene and confident mood. Contrast, for 
instance, with the drastic violence of Les Debacles the 
jaded weariness of such a lyric as Celui de la Fatigue, 
where the poet sings of an " ardour broken on 
the whirling staircase of the infinite," or of such 
a passage as 

" Je m'habille des loques de mes jours 
Et le baton de mon orgueil il plie, 
Mes pieds dites comme ils sont lourds 
De me porter de me trainer toujours 
Au long de siecle de ma vie." 

And as a complete antithesis, again, to the black 
bloodiness of such poems as La Tete or Un Meurtre, 
take the white suavity of Si. Georges : 

" II vient un bel ambassadeur 
Du pays blanc illumine" de marbres 
Oii dans les pares au bords des mers sur Parbre 
De la bonte suavement croit la douceur." 

But this serenity marked rather a respite in Ver- 
haeren's development than a real abatement of his 
poetic fury. With the furnaces of his mind re- 
charged to their maximum capacity with blazing 
health, he starts to race his muse over the main lines 
of the modern civilisation, which lead from The 
Hallucinated Country-sides to The Tentacular Towns. 


Though written at different times, these two sets of 
poems constitute the contrasting halves of a complete 
whole, and were published together in 1895 with 
two prologues, La Ville and La Plaine. The prologues, 
in particular, well illustrate the new rushing irregular 
prosody, specially forged for the purpose of hammer- 
ing out that white-hot steel of the modern civilisation 
which enmeshes in its fabric all the helpless flotsam 
of the agricultural economy. The academic harmony 
of the alexandrine is here abandoned. The rhymes 
crash out at lesser and greater intervals as they 
march along on feet that range from the quick spasm 
of some dissyllabic line to the spondaic emphasis of 
a full-length alexandrine. 

In Les Campagnes Hallucines itself the prosody is no 
doubt simpler, as the poet describes the ruined and 
pestilential country with its fevers, its sins, its 
beggars, its pilgrims, its diseases, insanities and de- 
bauches, and the immense monotony of its intermin- 
able plains. 

" C'est la plaine, la plaine bleme 
Interminablement toujours la meme, 

Par au-dessus, souvent 

Rage si forte le vent, 
Que Ton dirait le ciel fendu 

Au coup de boxe 

De l'equinoxe ; 
Novembre hurle ainsi qu'un loup 
Lamentable par le soir fou." 

Perhaps, however, the most sinister poems in Les 
Campagnes are the Chansons de Fou, with their naif 
absurdities and their intuitive reason, where the 
rhymes laugh and clatter like rows of grinning teeth, 
and the almost Dureresque Le Fleau, from its 

" La Mort a bu du sang 
Au carbaret des Trois Cercueils 


La Mort a mis sur le comptoir 

Un 6cu noir, 

' C'est pour les cierges, pour les deuils,' " 

down to its ghastly climax, 

" Et les foules suivaient vers n'importent ou, 
Le grand squelette aimable et soul 
Qui trimballait sur son cheval bonhomme 
L'^pouvante de sa personne, 
Jusqu'aux lointains de peur et de panique, 
Sans 6prouver 1'horreur de son odeur, 
Ni voir danser, sous un repli de sa tunique, 
Le trousseau de vers blancs qui lui tetaient le cceur." 

The final significance of Les Campagnes lies in its 
last poem, Le D&part, describing the desertion by 
the whole country-side of that dead mournful plain 
which is being eaten up by the town. 

" Tandis qu'au loin la-bas 
Sous les cieux lourds fuligineux et gras, 
Avec son front comme un Thabor, 
Avec ses sucoirs noirs et ses rouges haleines 
Hallucinant et attirant les gens des plaines, 
C'est la ville que le jour plombe et que la nuit eclaire 
La ville en platre, en stuc, en bois, en marbre, en fer, en or 

It is, however, in Les Villes Tentaculaires, where the 
fever and indefatigable aspiration of the town are 
described with a Zolaesque exaltation, that the 
originality of the departure initiated by Verhaeren is 
more specifically manifested. For he now boldly 
stalks forward as the pioneer realist in European 
poetry. Disregarding alike the orthodox subject- 
matter and the orthodox terminology of official 
poesy, he seeks and finds his inspiration in the vast 
forces at work in actual modern life. The realism of 
Verhaeren, in somewhat pointed contrast to the realism 
of some of our own patriotic or fashionable poets, even 
though such expressions as " cabs " and " steamers " 
are to be found in his work in the original English, 


depends for its aesthetic value neither on the swing of its 
slang nor the egregiousness of its expletives. The hot 
blast of his sincerity sweeps away at once any impeach- 
mentof mere dabbling in the ultra-modern. His diction 
is frequently brusque, and even red, if we may borrow 
his favourite colour, if not his favourite adjective ; yet it 
never loses the dignity of authentic poetry. For the 
poet would seem to have been personally susceptible, 
in the highest degree, to that peculiar multiplication 
of vitality and intensification of emotion which is the 
essential effect produced by big metropoles upon 
certain temperaments. And this cerebral ecstasy is 
increased by the consciousness of being on the 
threshold of a new age, " for the ancient dream is 
dead, and the new one is now being forged." Thus 
the poet will wander into The Cathedrals, take pity on 
the multitudinous misery of the praying hordes, and 
boom out again and again the refrain : 

" O ces foules, ces foules 
Et la misere et la detresse qui les foulent." 

But note the sociological symbolism of the climax : 

" Et les vitraux grands de siecles agenouilles 
Devant le Christ avec leurs papes immobiles 
Et leurs martyrs et leurs he'ros semblent trembler 
Au bruit d'un train lointain qui roule sur la ville." 

For refusing to bear the cross of Gothic ideas, the 
poet plunges deliberately into the inferno of modern 
life. And each fresh circle but kindles his ardour 
and inflames his Muse. For he will pass with grow- 
ing exaltation from the muscled teeming life of the 
port to the garish ballet of a music hall where 

" Des bataillons de chair et de cuisses en marche 
Grouillent sur des rampes ou sous des arches, 
Jambes, hanches, gorges, maillots, jupes, dentelles," 

and then, as midnight strikes and the crowd ebbs 


away, he will stalk into the " brilliant chemical atmos- 
phere " where 

" Au long de promenoirs qui s'ouvrent sur la nuit 
Balcons de fleurs, rampes de flammes 
Des femmes en deuil de leur ame 
Entrecroisent leurs pas sans bruit." 

Nor does the poet disdain the grinding factories 

" Entre des murs de fer et pierre 

Soudainement se leve altiere 

La force en rut de la matiere," 

or even the Bourse itself, where he sings in feverish 
staccato rhythm the 

" Langues seches, regards aigus, gestes inverses, 
Et cervelles qu'en tourbillons les millions traversent." 

But it is typical of Verhaeren's essential optimism that 
after describing with Zolaesque detail both a strike 
and a u shop of luxury," he should find the ransom 
of the future in 

" La maison de la science au loin dardee 
Obstinement par a travers les faits jusqu'aux id6es." 

In Les Heures Claires (1896) the drastic violence of Les 
Villes Tentaculaires abates for the time being into a 
mood of resigned, but yet robust melancholy, which 
immortalises the sweetness, deepness, and softness of 
the poet's love for his wife. 

In Les Forces Tumultueuses, however, the poet has 
got once again into the full swing of his drastic stride. 
The mood is to some extent the same as that of Les 
Villes Tentaculaires, though the Zolaesque concreteness 
of detail is merged in the broadness of a genuine 
Lucretian sweep. The book consists of a series of 
lyrical poems, lyrical, albeit, in the sense rather 
of Pindar than of Herrick, which exalt the various 

mile VERHAEREN 207 

phases of human energy. Thus in the poem, VArt, 
Verhaeren soars upwards with a tremendous rush : 

" D'un bond 
Son pied cassant le sol profond 
Son double aile dans la lumiere 
Le coil tendu, le feu sous les paupieres 
Partit, vers le soleil et vers l'extase, 
Ce devoreur d'espace et de splendeur Pegase." 

In Les MaUres the poet describes the various types 
of superman, from " the monk " of the Middle Ages 
to the banker of the twentieth century, who dominates 
the world as he " binds sinister destiny to his bour- 
geois will," and sows in the distance his winged gold. 

" Son or aile qui s'enivre d'espace, 
Son or planant, son or rapace, 
Son or vivant, 

Son or dont s'eclairent et rayonnent les vents, 
Son or qui boit la terre 
Par les pores de son misere 
Son or ardent, son or furtif, son or retors. 
Morceau d'espoir et de soleil son or ! " 

Some mention must also be made of the poem, Les 
Femmes, which, subdivided into L'lernelle, L'Amante, 
L'Amazone, ranks in our view as the greatest sex poem 
of the century. In contrast, for instance, with 
Swinburne, who treats sex rather as a thing of beauty 
and of pleasure than as an underlying world-force, and 
who has both the advantage and the disadvantage of 
the specifically classical conception of life, Verhaeren, 
whether he rings his changes in L'Amante on the soft 
refrain, "Mon reve est embarqu6 dans une ile flot- 
tante," shows in L'Amazone that the New Woman can 
be something considerably more poetic than a Strind- 
bergian monstrosity, or sings in Ufcternelle her " who 
thinks she encloses the whole world within her flesh," 
will boom out again and again the cosmic and uni- 
versal peal. The verse throughout is as beautiful as 


can be desired. But it has something more than 
beauty ; it has stature, majesty, speed, force, that 
exaltation of reality which is the essence of the highest 

In the poems, La Science, L'Erreur, La Folie, Les 
Cultes, Verhaeren proceeds to formulate his own philo- 
sophy of life, and his prophetic enthusiasm for the 
new modern truths, under whose clear feet the old 
texts have crumbled, as he expounds 

" Comment la vie est une a travers tous les &tres 
Qu'ils soient matiere instruit esprit ou volonte" 
ForSt myriadaire et rouge ou s'enchevetrent 
Les debordements fous de la feconditeV' 

Put shortly, his philosophy is a compound of those 
of Nietzsche and of Bergson. His soul, no doubt, 
swings in unison with the universal rhythm of the 
world, but, like Nietzsche, he finds in force and life 
realities transcending all errors, and after a historic 
survey of the more popular deities of humanity from 
Gog to Jehovah, and from Satan to Christ, enunciates 
his belief in humanity in stanzas of sublime blasphemy, 
far more truly religious than the ambiguous scrolls 
and rubrics of any antiquarian creed : 

" L'homme respire et sur la terre il marche, seul. 
II vit pour s'exalter du monde et de lui-meme, 
Sa langue oublie et la priere et le blaspheme ; 
Ses pieds foulent le drap de son ancien linceul. 
II est l'heureuse audace au lieu d'etre la crainte ; 
Tout l'infini ne retentit que de ses bonds 
Vers l'avenir plus doux, plus clair et plus fe'conds 
Dont s'aggrave le chant et s'alentit la plainte. 
Penser, chercher, et decouvrir sont ses exploits. 
II emplit jusqu'aux bords son existence breve ; 
II n'enfle aucun espoir, il ne fausse aucun reve, 
Et s'il lui faut des Dieux encore qu'il les soit ! " 

In La Multiple Splendeur and Les Visages de la Vie 
the same insatiable gusto for an infinitude of life darts 


again and again its red tongue. It is impossible by 
mere quotation to do justice to the full vastness of 
Verhaeren's lyric sweep. We would, however, at 
any rate, refer to the majesty of Le Monde with its 
combined crash and concord of incessant life and the 
Cyclopean weight of the adamantine line which but- 
tresses at either end the flaming rivers of its verse, 

* Le monde est fait avec des astres et des hommes," 
or to the sublimity of Les Penseurs in which the poet 
tells how 

" Autour de la terre obsedee 
Circule au fond des nuits, au coeur des jours 
L'orage amoncele" des id^es," 

and how 

" Descarte et Spinoza, Liebnitz, Kant et Hegel " 
" fixed the highest pinnacles of inaccessible problems 
for the goal of their silver arrows, and carried within 
themselves the grand obstinate dream of one day, 
imprisoning eternity in the white ice of immobile 

The very names, too, of some of the poems may 
possibly reflect some of the facets of their multiplied 
splendour : Le Verbe, Les Vieux Empires, La Louange 
du Corps Humain, A la Gloire des Cieux, A la Gloire 
du Vent, Les Reves, L' Europe, La Conquete, Les Souf- 
f ranees, La Joie, La Ferveur, Les Ide'es, La Vie, L' Effort, 
L' Action, Plus Loin que les Gares, Le Soir. And again 
and again rings out in various keys the true 
Nietzschean note. For "vast hopes come from the 
unknown " has displaced the ancient balance whereof 
souls are now tired. But the only reality is life : 

" La vie en cris ou en silence, 
La vie en lutte ou en accord 
Avec la vie avec la mort 
La vie apre, la vie intense, 



Elle est ici dans la fureur ou dans la haine 
De l'ascendant et rouge ardeur humaine." 

It is fine proof also of the vast vitality of Verhaeren 
that even in so recent a work as Les Rhythmes 
Souveraines the muscled majesty of his verse, though 
possibly a trifle less violent, shows no abatement of 
its essential strength. We would mention in par- 
ticular the poems Michel Ange, Chant d'Hercule, Les 
Barbares with the swift crispness of its one-foot lines, 
and above all Le Paradis with its almost Miltonic 
picture of 

" L'archange endormant Eve au creux de sa grande aile." 

But does not Verhaeren transcend Milton in the 
wideness of his humanity when he describes not with 
regret but with the maximum of exalted exultation 

u Eve bondit soudain hors de son aile immense, 
Oh l'heureuse subite et fdconde demence, 
Que l'ange avec son coeur trop pur ne comprit pas." 

In his latest volume, Les Ble's Mouvants, Verhaeren 
sinks back no doubt to a quieter and serener mood, 
but who shall say that these eclogues do not simply 
represent the sage crouch for another leonine spring ? 

We do not propose to make more than a passing 
reference to Verhaeren's plays, for it is the lyric 
rather than the drama which is his true medium of 

He'lene de Sparte, with all its graceful Alexandrines, 
is inferior to any play by D'Annunzio, and even the 
socialist drama Les Aubes is, notwithstanding the fine 
verses with which it is sown, simply stiff and heavy 
when compared with Hauptmann's Weavers. It is by 
his lyrics that Verhaeren lives, and will continue to 
live beyond his mere death whenever it comes, as 
the greatest and most essentially European poet of 


our new age. For his lyrics are equally great, both 
in their message and the method of their expression. 
Disdaining alike the cowardice and the perversity of 
those who, refusing to face the red realities of the 
present century, fly for their comfort to the pale 
shadows of the Middle Ages, Verhaeren has plunged 
boldly into the very brazier of our modern existence. 
He affirms, he combats, he prophesies, but he rarely, 
if ever, rests. He hymns every phase of life, from 
the human brain to the human body, and from the 
winds and seas of nature to the towns and marts of 
man. And no message is more virile, more tonic, 
more essentially healthy, for is not his message the 
phoenix of a new humanitarian faith soaring aloft on 
its fiery wings out of the corpses of the decomposing 
dogmas ? And his prosody has the supreme ex- 
cellence that it is not a mere aesthetic end in itself, 
but a drastic instrument of expression. Your pure 
aesthete, no doubt, may cavil at his ruggedness. For 
he is the Rodin of poetical rhyme, the veritable 
Vulcan of verse, or rather a Siegfried forging the 
sword of the future on the anvil of the present, as 
he drives in the stubborn nails of his nouns with 
the hissing hammers of his adjectives. His lines no 
doubt at times will growl, grind and boom, hit the 
reader in the face with all the force of a clenched 
fist, and palpitate with a full-bloodedness somewhat 
overpowering for the jaded and the anaemic. But 
is not this the very seal of success in a man who 
specifically sets himself to sing not the mere beauty 
of beauty, but the beauty of force, the beauty of 
life, " life violent, prodigious, unsatiated, the universal 
spasm of all things " ? 


" Repose-toi ! . . . Repose-toi ! . . . il n'est[doux que dormir ! . . . 

Non, la vie est a bruler comme un falot de paille, 

II faut l'ingurgiter d'une lampee hardie, 

Tels ces jongleurs de foire qui vont mangeant du feu 

D'un coup de langue, escamotant la Mort dans l'estomac." 

The above quotation from M. Marinetti's poem, 
Le Demon de la Vitesse, is well adapted to give some 
idea of the feverish but sustained energy of those 
pictures whose recent exhibition in the Sackville 
Gallery so successfully scandalised not only the 
doyens of the Royal Academy but even the official 
champions of all that is new and progressive in our 
modern English art. But for a correct appreciation 
even of the Futurist pictures themselves, it is essential 
to realise that, so far from being the mere isolated 
extravagances and tours de force of a new technique, 
they constitute an integral part of a living scheme, 
which with all its lavish use of the most ostentatious 
hyperbolism, has yet claims to be seriously con- 
sidered as a substantial movement, artistic, literary, 
economic, sociological, and above all human. 

Let us then make some scrutiny of this " Rising 
City " of Futurism, as it rears with such vehement 
exaltation from out the trampled debris of a super- 
seded and dishonoured past. For this purpose, 
having first examined those conditions of contem- 
porary Italy which more immediately provoked this 
u Red Rebellion," we shall proceed to some analysis 
of the general character of the movement and of 



the aggressive and sensational works of M. Marinetti 
himself, the audacious Mercury of this new message. 

The direct cause of the Futurist movement is to 
be found in the fact that that modern current of 
electric energy, which has been galvanising the 
states of Northern and Central Europe to a more 
and more strenuous and a more and more complicated 
activity has, so far as Italy is concerned, not suc- 
ceeded in flowing further south than Milan. In 
this connection it is not without its significance that, 
while Milan is indubitably the vital and commercial 
capital of the peninsula, the official capital should 
be merely Rome, aureoled with its hybrid halo of 
majesty and malaria, the centre of the tourist, the 
archaeologist, and the Papacy, that august shadow 
of a once living empire. 

Even, moreover, the great heroes of the Risorgimento 
Italianoy the euphonious title by which Italians desig- 
nate the unification of their country, suffered from 
an undue obsession with the democratic ideals of 
a mediaeval past. Dissipating their energy in rushing 
reams of republican rhetoric or the purple pomp 
of patriotic platitudes, they remained sublimely 
oblivious to the crying economic needs of a country 
which, with all its natural richness and all its 
natural genius, still, so far as general material and 
intellectual progress is concerned, lags no incon- 
siderable distance behind the increasingly quick 
march of the European civilisation. Nor did matters 
improve when the regime of the naif idealists was 
succeeded by that of the opportunist bureaucracy 
which has since governed Italy. A vast portion of 
the country still remains unforested, uncultivated, 
unirrigated, and above all uneducated. The taint 
of malaria still infects wide tracts of land, which 
with proper treatment might have been profitably 


developed by those masses of sturdy labourers who 
have emigrated to America with an almost Irish 
eagerness. Indeed with all respect to M. Marinetti, 
who has himself fought in the Tripolitan trenches, 
the Italo-Turkish war was occasioned (if we can rely 
on one of the most brilliant and responsible of the 
Parisian reviews) not so much by a bond fide desire 
to find a place in the sun for the not yet surplus 
population of a not yet fully developed country, 
as by an indisputably authentic ambition to find 
a lucrative outlet for the money of the clique of 
clerical capitalists who control the Bank of Rome. 
So far, however, as no inconsiderable portion of 
Italy itself is concerned, we are confronted with a 
country of museums, ruins, and ciceroni which, 
exploiting the Fremdeninduslrie after the manner of 
some more perverse and inexcusable Switzerland, 
prostitutes with venal ostentation the faded beauties 
of its undoubtedly glorious past to the complete 
ruin of its only potentially splendid present. 

A certain pseudo-Nietzscheanism has no doubt 
been introduced into Italy beneath the auspices of 
D'Annunzio. Yet, with all his fanfaronnade of tense 
and exuberant virility, the atmosphere of D'Annunzio 
is, speaking broadly, moistly rank and exotically 
enervating. With the possible exception of his latest 
novel, his heroes are languidly feverish dilettantes 
whose lives are principally devoted to the literary 
and aesthetic cultivation of all the neurotic luxuriance 
of their own erotic morbidities. This brings us to 
the important sociological fact of that rigid obsession 
with sex, as the one paramount emotional, artistic, and 
vital value which, sapping the manhood not only of 
Italy but also indeed of France, tends to corrupt 
the whole social, political, and economic life of the 
two nations. 


It is this exaggerated preoccupation with the sexual 
aspect of life which has produced, by way of a 
vehement but deliberate riposte, the important Futurist 
maxim, " M6prisez la femme." With an enthusiasm in 
fact almost worthy of our own Young Men's Christian 
Association, these comparative Hippolyti of a young 
mother-country, only recently wedded in the bonds 
of political union, flaunt themselves as the unscrupu- 
lous iconoclasts of such firmly established national 
ideals as u the glorious conception of Don Juan and 
the grotesque conception of the cocu." Thus the 
Futurists would banish the nude from painting and 
adultery from the novel, so that they may be able to 
substitute the sublime male fury of creation of artistic 
and scientific masterpieces for all the sterile embraces 
of hedonistic eroticism, and, like some gallant band 
of twentieth-century Hercules, cleanse the Augean 
stables of the Latin civilisation of its vast surplus of 
malignant mud vomited forth by that stewing and pes- 
tiferous swamp of sex. As an antidote to that virulent 
plague of luxurious and diseased sexuality, which it 
is their self-imposed mission to eradicate, they pen the 
drastic prescription of " patriotism and war, the only 
hygiene of the world." So hot indeed is the ardour 
of these militant apostles of a new Latin civilisation, 
that they once incurred the displeasure of established 
authority by insisting on a war with Austria with 
such a maxim of vehemence that an Austrian journal 
actually demanded the intervention of the Italian 

And whether this policy indicates the mere tetanic 
spasms of a delirious Chauvinism, or the lucid vision 
of an inspired if heretical diplomacy, it is certainly 
symptomatic of a tense, combative, and drastic energy 
which is, in the deepest sense of the word, essentially 
Nietzschean. In this connection the attitude of the 


Futurists towards Nietzsche is instructive. They 
have read his books, thrilled to his magic, and yet 
they repudiate him. For they cavil, and not alto- 
gether unreasonably, at the bigoted and hide-bound 
dualism of Nietzsche's political philosophy, and his 
obstinate and obsolete division of the political world 
into the divine spirit of a few strong geniuses and the 
brute matter of a weak and numerous proletariate. 

Yet, taking the matter in its broad lines, 
M. Marinetti's programme for " the indefinite physio- 
logical and intellectual progress of man " expresses 
admirably the whole theory of the Nietzschean 
Superman. Nietzschean also are such phrases as, 
" the type inhuman, mechanical, cruel, omniscient 
and combative," or a the multiplied man who mingles 
with iron, nourishes himself on electricity, and only 
appreciates the delight of the danger and of the 
heroism of every single day." The real distinction 
lies in the fact that the Futurist Superman is more 
practical, more concrete, more up-to-date, and, above 
all, infinitely less dreamy than his elder and more 
pedantic brother. 

And in spite of M. Marinetti's analysis of Nietzs- 
cheanism as nothing but the artificial resurrection 
of a dead and past antiquity, the two ideals are 
harmonious in their denunciation of the facile and 
automatic reverence for " the good old days," and 
their savage exhortation to " sweep away the grey 
cinders of the Past with the incandescent lava of the 

This announcement of a virile desire to improve 
and improve and improve, not only on the past but 
also on the present, constitutes the principal mark in 
the Futurist platform. Hence the leaders of the 
movement have coined the two words passeisme, the 
object of their onslaught, and Futurism, the watch- 


word of their faith. And truculently pushing their 
theories to the extreme limit of extravagant logic, 
M. Marinetti and his brothers in arms exhorted the 
assembled Venetians, in the 200,000 multicoloured 
manifestos which on a certain memorable day they 
flung down into the Piazza San Marco, " to cure and 
cicatrize this rotting town, magnificent wound of the 
Past, and to hasten to fill its small foetid canals with 
the ruins of its tumbling, leprous palaces." But the 
remedy is constructive as well as destructive. 

" Burn the gondolas, those swings for fools, and 
erect up to the sky the rigid geometry of large 
metallic bridges and factories with waving hair of 
smoke ; abolish everywhere the languishing curve of 
the old architecture." 

We see at once how, in this more than Wellsian 
enthusiasm for all the romantic possibilities of a 
scientific civilisation, they declare the most sanguin- 
ary war a toutrance with that Ruskinian and Pre- 
Raphaelite sentimentalism which, sublimely burying 
its mediaeval head in the immemorial sands of a 
crumbling past, is somewhat ill-adapted to confront 
the onrushing simoon of an increasingly definite and 
formidable future. And with the deliberate object of 
emphasizing his point with the maximum of provo- 
cative aggressiveness, the Futurist will fling at his 
enemies the insolent paradox that a motor-car in 
motion has a higher aesthetic value than the Victory 
of Samothrace, or announce with theatrical solemnity 
that the pain of a man is just about as interesting in 
their eyes as the pain of an electric lamp, suffering in 
convulsive spasms and crying out with the most 
agonising effects of colour. 

Yet if we strip this new u beauty of mechanism " 
and " aesthetic of speed " of its loud garb of ostentatious 
extravagance, the intrinsic theories themselves strike 


us as neither monstrous nor unreasonable. For if 
we may presume to put our own unauthorised gloss 
on M. Marinetti's vividly illuminated manuscript, 
what the Futurist really wishes is to break down the 
conventional divorce that is so often thought to exist 
between ideal Art and actual Life, so as to bring the 
two elements into the most drastic and immediate 
contact. Art, in fact, should not be an escape from 
but an exaltation of the red impetus of life. Art's 
function is not merely to titillate the dispassionate 
aesthetic feeling of the dilettante or connoisseur, 
but to thrill with a keen vital emotion the actual 
experiencer of life. Form is not an end in itself, its 
sole function is to extract the whole emotional quality 
of its content. And when confronted with the 
problem of what content is best fitted to be the 
proper subject of artistic representation, your Futurist 
would promptly retort that, inasmuch as the tumul- 
tuous twentieth-century emotions of "steel, pride, fever, 
and speed " are those to which the twentieth-century 
civilisation will naturally vibrate with the most 
authentic sympathy, those emotions and those alone 
are the proper subject-matter for twentieth-century art. 
Having thus obtained some rough idea of the 
broad lines of the new Futurism, let us proceed to 
examine its manifestation in the spheres of painting 
and literature. So far as their painting is concerned, 
the primary principle of the Futurists is their sub- 
ordination of intrinsic aesthetic form to emotional 
content. This principle, though carried to a pitch 
far transcending anything which had ever been 
previously essayed, is by no means without its exem- 
plifications, in the history both of past and con- 
temporary art. Even indeed in the eighteenth century 
Blake had transferred on to the painted canvas 
his highly abstract ideas of esoteric mysticism. 


The content of the pictures of Blake is of course 
diametrically opposed to the content of the Futurists, 
yet an authentic analogy lies in the fact that a con- 
tent at all should have been specifically painted. 
With a similar qualification we can remember with 
advantage how Rossetti and Burne-Jones, as indisput- 
ably modern in the fact that they had the courage to 
paint a content at all, as they were indisputably 
reactionary in the actual content which they felt 
inspired to portray, gave pictorial representation to 
the Pre-Raphaelite nostalgia for a prae-mediaeval 
past. More analogous are the canvases of Franz 
von Stuck, the Munich Secessionist, who also sets out 
to paint ideas and to give aesthetic form to psycho- 
logical contents. Thus his Krieg, with its grimly 
triumphant rider, steadfastly pursuing the goal of an 
ideal future over the wallowing corpses of a tran- 
scended present, expresses perfectly in the sphere of 
paint the whole spirit of the Nietzschean Superman. 

Even better examples of the growing predominance 
of the content in the sphere of art are to be found 
in Rodin, who moulds even in immobile statuary 
something of the tumultuous sweep of the present 
age, or in Max Klinger the creator in concrete form 
of the most abstract and impalpable ideas. 

So also modern music, as represented at any rate 
by the tense restlessness of Richard Strauss with all 
his fine shades of crouching fear and exultant cruelty, 
or the mystical sensuousness of Debussy, ceases to 
be a mere meaningless euphony of pleasing melody, 
devoid of any vital significance except its own aesthetic 
beauty, sets itself more and more to travel, in the 
sphere of sound, over the whole vibrant gamut of 
the human emotions. 

To achieve the presentation of a content with the 
maximum of drastic effect, the Futurists have invented 


a new technique. Without embarking on any 
elaborate technical discussion, we would say that 
their chief principle in the painting of apparently even 
the most objective phenomena is that it should be 
the aim of the artist to reproduce no mere picturesque 
copy of some stationary pose, but that whole sen- 
sorial or emotional quality inherent in all dynamic 
life which radiates to the mind of the spectator, or 
which again may be simply flashed into dynamic 
life by the mind of the spectator himself. 

And as, according to our latest and most fashion- 
able metaphysical authority, the ego, whether of a 
man, an insect, or a cosmos, is merely a movement, 
it should not strike us as altogether unreasonable 
if the dynamic idea of movement should enter very 
prominently into the Futurist paintings. For, realis- 
ing fully that consciousness is a stream and not a 
pond, and that both cerebral memories and visual 
impressions are but, as it were, the flying nets hastily 
created and re-created to catch a world that is 
perpetually on the run, the Futurists make boldly 
ingenious efforts to capture the jumping chameleon 
of truth, by portraying not one but several phases 
of the unending series of the human cinematograph. 

Thus in Severini's picture of the " Pan-Pan dance 
at the Monico," the artist sets himself to paint the 
whole moving, multicoloured soul of this by no 
means spiritual Montmartre tavern, with all its 
various subdivisions of male and female customers 
engaged in their mutual revels and their mutual 
dances, the deviltry of its rigolo music, and all the 
hustling clash and clatter of its insolent carouse. 

It is also significant of their general Weltanschauung 
that the Futurists should frequently find their inspira- 
tion in the speed, stress, and creativity of a glorious 
modernity. Thus Russolo's " Rebellion," angular, 


aggressive, rampant, reproduces the whole red energy 
of an insurgent proletariate, while the same painter's 
'* Train " essays, and not unsuccessfully, to paint the 
very lights and ridges of velocity itself. 

The feats of the new culture in the realm of 
literature are quite as impressive and as sensational 
as in that of painting. This brings us to some con- 
sideration of M. Marinetti himself, both the real and 
the official, chief of the new movement. 

To comprehend the true essence of this man, who 
certainly constitutes a European portent which, 
whether hated or loved, can scarcely be ignored, 
it is necessary to realise that while a poet he is 
above all a man of the world and of action. While, 
also, as would appear from his visit to the Morning 
Post correspondent in Tripoli, he is a gentleman 
inflamed by a genuine if no doubt slightly truculent 
patriotism, he has all the advantages of being 
an almost perfect cosmopolitan. Born in Egypt 
of Italian parents, educated in France, and now 
directing the Futurist movement from Milan, 
M. Marinetti combines all the heat of an African 
temperament with all the mercurial dash and 
aggressiveness of the modern Latin civilisation. 
At present only in the early thirties, M. Marinetti 
founded in the years 1 904-1 905 his international 
review Poesia. To this journal he endeavoured to 
attract all that was strenuous, aspiring, and daring 
in the artistic youth of the Latin civilisation. Event- 
ually the various tentative ideals and ideas which 
he and his colleagues entertained became crystallised 
in the word Futurism, which grew more and more 
a definite creed with a more and more definite cate- 
chism of literature, music, painting, politics, and life. 
Since the publication of the first Futurist manifesto 
in the Figaro in 1909, M. Marinetti has devoted 


himself to waging with all his militant energy of 
tongue, sword, and pen the campaign of Futurism. 
Meeting after meeting, demonstration after demon- 
stration has he addressed in Italy, and, carrying the 
war into the enemy's country, he has even had the 
audacity to hurl his defiance from Trieste itself. 
And if the deliberate provocativeness at which he 
has pitched his propaganda has brought upon him 
the venomous hatred of both numerous and power- 
ful enemies, it has merely served to give but an 
additional fillip to the fury of his impetus. 

It is indeed not only amusing, but also an indica- 
tion of the man's verve and defiance, to remember 
that when he had been hissed for a whole hour on 
end in the Theatre Mercadante of Naples, where he 
was delivering a lecture, and an apparently quite 
edible orange was eventually thrown at him, he should 
with fine bravura take out his penknife and both peel 
and eat the orange. In Italy, at any rate, Futurism 
has swept the universities, and the disciples of the 
new faith number 50,000. Endeavouring to give to 
the campaign a cosmopolitan significance, theFuturists 
have carried their pictures, their manifestos, and their 
books to Madrid, to Berlin, to Paris (where they were 
enthusiastically toasted by the " Association Generate 
des Etudiants," the Parisian equivalent of the Oxford 
and Cambridge Unions), and even to England itself, 
which, with a surprising lack of its usual insularity, 
would actually appear to be taking an intelligent in- 
terest in a new movement without waiting, as was 
the case with Nietzscheanism, until it has first become 
the respectable if passee object of the devotion of 
Continental academicism. 

Before we proceed on our short survey of the chief 
works of M. Marinetti, which have been written in 
French and only subsequently translated into Italian, 


it is necessary to make some brief mention of the 
new technique which he employs. This new tech- 
nique is Free Verse, first introduced into French 
literature in the Palais Nomades of M. Gustave Kahn. 
It should be remembered, of course, that French Free 
Verse is an article totally distinct from that mixture 
of rolling dithyramb and conversational slap-dash 
which characterises the work of Walt Whitman. 

So far indeed as M. Gustave Kahn is concerned, 
the innovation simply consisted not in any repudia- 
tion of rhyme in itself, but in the emancipation of 
French verse from the strait-waistcoat of the Alex- 
andrine and the strict disciplinary rules of academic 

M. Marinetti, on the other hand, in the three 
volumes which it is now proposed to consider, viz. 
La Conquete des Etoiles (Sansot, 1902), Destruction 
(Vanier, 1904), La Ville Charnelle (Sansot, 1908), 
carries the metrical revolution considerably further. 
For while the essence of classicism itself when com- 
pared with the polyphonic though at times majestic 
ebullitions of Walt Whitman, they subserve no specific 
rule. Metre, genuine metre, is invariably present, 
but the precise shape which it happens to take is 
determined by the exigencies not of the particular 
metre in which the poet happens to be writing, but 
of the particular mood or emotion which clamours 
for expression in the form most specifically appro- 
priate to its own particular idiosyncrasies. If, in 
fact, we may endeavour to crystallise the theory of 
this verse, which though free from mechanical re- 
straint is always subordinate to the command of its 
own dynamic soul, we should say that it is simply 
the principle of onomatopoeia carried from the sphere 
of words to the sphere of metre. 

In the Conquete des Etoiles the twenty-four-year-old 


Marinetti, with the characteristic verve of audacious 
adolescence, essays to open the oyster of the poetical 
world with the sword of a romantic epic. Bearing 
evidence at times, in its grandiose anthropomorphism 
of natural phenomena, of the influence of u his old 
masters the French Symbolists," the poem of this 
future champion of a concrete modernity challenges, 
at any rate in the gigantic massing of its imagery, 
that grandiose if somewhat bourgeois romantic Victor 
Hugo. For here poetic Pelion is piled upon poetic 
Ossa with the most drastic vengeance. For the 
Sovereign Sea, chanting her inaugural battle-cry, 

" Hola-h6 ! Hola-ho ! Stridionla, Stridionla, Stridionla ! 
Stridionlaire ! " 

to her ancient waves, puissant warriors with venerable 
beards of foam, lashes them to conquer Space and 
mount to the assault of the grinning Stars. And 
missiles are there in her Reservoir of Death u pet- 
rified bodies, bodies of steel, embers and gold, harder 
than the diamond, the suicides whose courage failed 
beneath the weight of their heart, that furnace of stars, 
those who died for that they stoked within their blood 
the fire of the Ideal, the great flame of the Absolute 
that encompassed them." And for an army has she 
the legions of her amazon cavalry, the veterans of 
the Sea, the great waves, the riotous, prancing nar- 
whals with their scaly rings, the typhoons, the cyclones 
and the haughty trombes (water-spouts), " draping 
around their loins their fuliginous veils, or lifting 
masses of darkness in their great open arms." And 
so this feud of the elements proceeds from climax to 
climax, from crescendo to crescendo, till the astral 
fortresses succumb to the shock of an infernal charge, 
and the last star expires " with her pupils of grey 
shadow imploring the Unknown, oh how sweetly." 
No doubt the poem almost reels at times as though 


intoxicated with the excesses of its own imagery. Yet 
making all due discount for this healthy turgidity of 
adolescence, it is impossible to dispute the authentic 
poetical value of this brilliant epic. 

By so masterly a grasp is the metre handled that 
the reader, quite oblivious of the immaterial question 
of whether he is perusing verse or prose, is only con- 
scious of the ideas and emotions themselves. The 
following passage is typical not only of the poem's 
potency of expression, but of the intimate union 
which is effected between the meaning and the form. 

" C'est ainsi que passe le Simoun, 
aiguillonant sa furie de de'sert en desert, 
avec son escorte caracolante 
de sables souleves tout ruisselants de feu ; 
c'est ainsi que le Simoun galope 
sur Poce'an fige" des sables, 
en balancant son torse geant d'idole barbare 
sur des fuyantes croupes d'onagres affotes." 

In the series of poems, however, known as De- 

"Since there is only splendour in this word of terror 
And of crushing force like a Cyclopaean hammer," 

that boyish robustness which we have seen playing 
so naively in the romantic limbo, has attained the 
solidity of manhood. Finding it no longer necessary 
to have recourse for his subject-matter to some set 
theme of an Elemental War, the author reproduces 
the experiences of his own inner life in a new lyrical 
language, whose rhythm vibrates responsively to every 
thrill of its creator's spirit, and takes faithfully every 
colour of his chameleon soul. 
For the poet is now reverential : 

" Tu es infinie et divine, o Mer, et je le sais 
de par le jurement de tes levres, 6cumantes 
de par ton jurement que repercutent de plage en plage 
les echos attentifs ainsi que des guetteurs." 



now jocund : 

" O Mer, mon ame est puerile et demande un jouet ; 

now, almost sensually, adoring : 

" O toi ballerine orientale au ventre sursautant, 
dont les seins sont rouges par le sang des naufrages * ; 

now sunk in the abject ecstasies of opium : 

" Derriere des vitres rouges des voix rauques criaient 
1 De la moelle et du sang pour les lampees d'oubli 
C'est le prix des beaux reves ! . . . c'est le prix . . .' 
Et j'entrais avec eux au bouge de ma chair " ; 

now gentle: 

" C'est pour nous que le Vent las de voyages eternels, 
disabuse" de sa vitesse de fant6me, 
froissant d'une main lasse, au trefonds de l'espace, 
les velours somptueux d'un grand oreiller d'ombre 
tout diamantes de larmes siderales " ; 

now bitterly conscious of the ironic raillery of the 
sea : 

" Vos caresses brulantes, vos savantes caresses, 
sont pareilles a des tatonnements d'aveugles 
qui vont ramant par les couloirs d'un labyrinthe ! 
Vos baisers ont toujours 1'acharnement infatigable 
d'un dialogue enrage entre deux sourds 
emprisonnes au fond d'un cachot noir." 

Even more characteristic of the feverish, but not 
unhealthy ardour of the book is that series of ten 
poems entitled Le Demon de la Vitesse, a kind of 
railway journey of the modern soul. For now the 
poet, stoking the engines of his pounding brain with 
the monstrous coals of his own energy, drives his 
train of ^Eschylean images (well equipped with all 
the latest modern inventions) with all the record- 
breaking rapidity of some Trans-American express, 
from the u vermilion terraces of love," across u Hindu 


evenings," " tyrannical rivers," " avenging forests," 
" milleniar torrents," and " the dusky corpulence of 
mountains," to traverse " the delirium of Space," and 
" the supreme plateaux of an absurd Ideal," to end 
finally in the grinding shock of a collision and all the 
agony of a shipwrecked vessel. It is in this series of 
poems that the author's wealth of imagery, always 
superabundant, lavishes its most profound and inces- 
sant exuberance. 

For such phrases as " the drunken fulness of 
streaming stars in the great bed of heaven," " oh, 
folly, my folly, oh, Eternal Juggler," "O wind, 
crucified beneath the nails of the stars," ** the flesh 
scorched in the burning tunic of a terrible desire," 
u the sad towns crucified on the great crossed arms of 
the white road" are not mere isolated flashes of poetical 
riches, but casual samples of an opulence displaying 
itself on this same grandiose scale throughout every 
line of every poem. Note, also, that the poet has 
completely fused himself with the whole scientific 
universe. He will thus portray a man in the terms 
of some dynamic entity of mechanical science, 
which as likely as not will itself be represented in 
terms of humanity. Contrast, for instance, such 
phrases as 

" Les geantes pneumatiques de l'Orgueil," or w train fougueux 
de mon ame," 


" Colonnes de fumee, immenses bras de negre, 
anneles d'etincelles et de rubis sanglants." 

To sum up the essential character of Destruction, 
we would say that releasing poetry from the shackles 
of the conventional subject-matter, the conventional 
language, and the conventional metres to which it 


had been so long confined, it lays the hitherto un- 
travelled lines of the speed and beauty of the whole 
of modern civilisation, with its all-unexplored scientific 
and psychological regions, as it sings the rushing 
rhapsody of the whole spirit of the twentieth cen- 

" I bid ye pant your fury and your spleen, 
I reck not the long roarings of your wrath, 
O galloping Simoons of my ambition, 
Who heavily the city's threshold paw, 
Nor ever shall ye cross her sensual walls, 
Ye neigh in vain in my stopped ears, already 
With rosy murmurs steeped and stupefied 
(And subterranean voices of the deep), 
Like spells of freshness full of the sea's song." 

The above quotation may perhaps give such 
readers as have not the luxury of the French 
language some faint shadow of the warm charm of 
La Ville Charnelle, which, at any rate from the con- 
ventional standard of ordinary aesthetic beauty, re- 
presents the zenith of M. Marinetti's poetical achieve- 
ment. For in his second volume of verse, our 
author abandons the furious pace of his rushing 
modernity to sing the almost sensual beauty of a 
tropical town, with "the silky murmur of its African 
sea," its pointed " mosques of desire," and its u hills 
moulded like the knees of women, and swathed in the 
linen billows of its dazzling chalk." The swift piston 
rhythm of Destruction is exchanged for a measure 
which, though untrammelled by any tight convention, 
is often clad in the Turkish trousers of some languor- 
ous rhyme, or slides with the voluptuous swish of 
some blank alexandrine. But if the flood of images 
has abated its turbulence to a serener beauty, it has 
not thereby suffered any loss of volume, as is evi- 
denced by such phrases as " les molles emeraudes de 
prairies infinies," "la bouche eclatee des horizons 


engloutisseurs," or "jusqu'au volant trapeze de ce 
grand vent gymnaste." 

Or take the following passage from The Banjoes of 
Despair and of Adventure : 

* Elles chantent, les benjohs hysteriques et sauvages, 
comme des chattes enervdes par l'odeur de l'orage- 
Ce sont des negres qui les tiennent 
empoignees violemment, comme on tient 
une amarre que secoue la bourrasque. 
Elles miaulent, les benjohs, sous leurs doigts frenetiques, 
et la mer, en bombant son dos d'hippopotame, 
acclame leurs chansons par des flic-flacs sonores 
et des renaclements." 

More aery and fantastic in their radiance are the 
Little Dramas of Light, which in the same volume 
play outside the walls of La Ville Chamelle. For 
pushing the pathetic fallacy to the extreme limit of 
pantheism, or anthropomorphism, as one cares to 
put it, our author constructs his miniature scenes 
out of the interplay of plants, elements, and the very 
fabrics of human invention, all participating in some- 
thing of the mingled dash, despair, and desire which 
go to weave the somewhat complex tissue of our 
ultra-modern humanity. 

Even the titles of a few of these delicate poems 
give some idea of their darting beauty " The Foolish 
Vines and the Greyhound of the Firmament " (the 
Moon), " The Life of the Sails," " The Death of the 
Fortresses," " The Folly of the Little Houses," The 
Dying Vessels," " The Japanese Dawn," u The 
Courtesans of Gold " (the Stars). 

Observe, also, the eminently twentieth-century 
temperament of the " coquettish vessels," who, " half- 
clothed in their ragged sails, and playing like urchins 
with the incandescent ball of the sun," have yet 
experienced u amid the disillusioned smile of the 
autumn evenings" the desire for a fuller and more 


tumultuous life than is afforded by the " ventriloquist 
soliloquies of the gurgling waters of the quays." 

" C'est ainsi, c'est ainsi que les jeunes Navires 
implorent affolees delivrance, 
en s'esclaffant de tous leurs linges barioles, 
claquant au vent comme les levres briilees de fievre. 
Leurs drisses et leurs haubans se raidissent 
tels des nerfs trop tendus qui grincent de de'sir, 
car ils veulent partir et s'en aller 
vers la tristesse affreuse (qu'importe ?) inconsolable 
et (qu'importe ?) infinie 
d'avoir tout savoure et tout maudit (qu'importe ?)." 

We can perhaps best formulate the dynamic elan 
de vie, which pulses through every line of M. Marinetti's 
poems, by indulging in the perversion of the great 
line of Baudelaire, so that we can give to our poet 
for his motto : 

" Je hais la ligne qui tue le mouvement." 

M. Marinetti's activity, however, is not limited to 
the sphere of verse. In 1905 he published Le Rot 
Bombance {Mercure de France), a satyric tragedy, com- 
pound of the scarcely harmonious temperaments of 
Rabelais and Maeterlinck, a wild extravaganza of 
anthropophagy and resurrection, which satirises the 
prominent figures in contemporary Italian politics, 
including the recently dead Crispi, Ferri, and Tenatri, 
and contains withal a profound undercurrent of socio- 
logical truth. Poupees Electriques (Sansot) followed 
in 1909, a play which, with all its brilliance and origin- 
ality, somehow just misses the real dramatic pitch. 

Far more significant are the belles lettres of Les 
Dieux s'en vont U Annunzio reste (Sansot, 1908), with 
its steely dash of style and its criticism at once 
singularly acute and delightfully malicious of the 
official protagonist of all Italian culture, and the 
recently published Futurisme (Sansot, 1911). 


But of all the works of M. Marinetti, the most 
impressive is the great prose epic, Mafarka Le 
Futuriste. It is in the three hundred pages of this 
novel, which describes the destructive and creative 
exploits of a militant and intellectual African prince, 
that the Futurist leader has given the most complete 
expression to the vehement surge of his genius. In 
this book, the spirits of the East and of the West 
strangely combine. The gross heat of an African 
sun beats incessantly down upon these torrid pages, 
yet even the most oriental passages have such a 
Homeric freshness of epic sweep as to render them 
immeasurably cleaner than the sniggering indecencies 
of not a few of even the more fashionable and 
respectable of our lady novelists. Incident follows 
on incident, adventure on adventure, with the magic 
bewilderment of some Arabian Night, an Arabian night 
illumined by the galvanic current of some twentieth- 
century genie, as it flashes image after image on the 
multicoloured sheet of some dancing cinematograph. 
The style bounds with a lithe male crispness, in 
comparison with which even the luxuriant and self- 
complacent flowers of D'Annunzio himself seem at 
times to offer but rank and androgynous beauties. 

How admirable, for instance, is such a passage as 

" And Mafarka-el-Bey bounded forward, with great elastic steps, 
sliding on the voluptuous springs of the wind and rolling like 
a word of victory in the very mouth of God " ; 

or such a perfect Homeric simile as 

" All the beloved sweetness of his vanished youth mounted in 
his throat, even as from the courtyard of schools there mount the 
joyous cries of children towards their old masters, leaning over 
the parapet of the terrace from which they see the flight of the 
vessels upon the sea " ; 

or such a perfect description as 
" Et d'en haut descendaient les rayons des e*toiles des milliers 


de chainettes dorees tintinabulantes, qui balangaient au ras de 
l'eau leurs tremblants reflets, innombrables veilleuses." 

But the wondrous story of how Mafarka-el-Bey 
exhorted to the work of war the thousands of his 
wallowing soldiers from the putrescent bed of that 
dried-up lake ; of how, disguising himself as an aged 
beggar, he visited the camp of the negroes ; of the 
monstrous tale which he there told his Ethiopian 
foes ; of the stratagem by which he drew the two 
pursuing wings of the infatuated army to the stupen- 
dous shock of an internecine collision ; of how he 
annihilated the maddened hordes of the Hounds of 
the Sun with the stones flung by the mechanical 
Giraffes of War ; of the Neronian banquet in the 
grotto of the Whale's Belly ; of the agonised hydro- 
phobic death of his brother Magamal, the light of 
his eyes ; of the nocturnal journey in which he 
conveyed across the sea his brother's body in a sack 
to the land of the Hypogeans ; of the Futurist Dis- 
course which he there held ; of his passing encounter 
with the fellahin Habbi and Luba ; of how, dis- 
daining the more banal method of filial creation, 
he compelled the weavers of Lagahourso and the 
smiths of Milmillah to make the body of that Airgod 
Gazourmeh, whose spirit he had fashioned out of 
the glory of his own unaided brain ; and of how he 
died exultantly, brushed away beneath the gigantic 
wings of his son, as it flew like some hilarious parri- 
cide into the clear infinitude, is it not all written in 
the pages of Mafarka Le Futuriste ? (E. Sansot & Cie, 
Paris, 3 fr. 50 c.) 

Note, also, the religious exultation of martial and 
intellectual energy, whose hoarse prayer is uttered 
on almost every page. For Mafarka is the prophet 
of that u new voluptuousness which shall have rid 
the world of love when he shall have founded the 


religion of the concrete will and of the heroism of 
every single day." 

And to still further exemplify his new religion 
of war and energy, and inspired, too, no doubt by 
the airy message of the Arab bullets, M. Marinetti 
finished on the 29th November 191 1 in the trenches 
of Sidi-Missri, near Tripoli, the great free-verse epic 
of three hundred and fifty pages, entitled The Pope's 
Monoplane. The function of this poem, which is 
certainly the most original epic known to literary 
history, is to serve as an anti-clerical, an anti-pacifist, 
and anti-Austrian polemic. And this function it ac- 
complishes by a technique which in its successful 
audacity transcends even itself. For nowhere is the 
free verse of Marinetti more free. New harmonies 
and even new dissonances are conjured up according 
to the emotion to be expressed and the object to be 
described, while the terminology of mechanics and 
physiology is judiciously mingled with just a trace 
of the old romanticism. The whole epic quite literally 
flies with inordinate swiftness. For the poet is, 
on his monoplane, careering over the heart of Italy. 
He takes counsel of his father the volcano, and, 
flying back to Rome, fishes up by means of an iron 
chain with a spring-trap the great polished Seal, or, 
as he exultantly describes it, 

" Un pape, un vrai pape, le saint Pontif lui-m6me." 

And on he flies on his missionary career, with the 
miserable Vicar of God dangling helplessly beneath 
him, now present at the debates of Les Moucherons 
Politiciens, now assisting at the tumultuous congress 
of Les Syndicats Pacifistes, now side by side with the 
moon, now exhorting the Italian youth to shake off 
their execrable lethargy, and, finally, participating 
in the eventual overthrow of the Austrian enemy. 


This poem marks an immense advance on the earlier 
epic, La Conquite des toiles, to which we have already 
referred. It pullulates with an equal energy, but 
this energy is tenser and far less turgid. It is an 
energy, moreover, whose impetus is expended not on 
imaginative abstractions, but on the drastic attack of 
concrete political problems. As a sheer piece, too, 
of description, Marinetti's description of the Battle of 
Monfalcone is in our view superior to any of the 
military verse even of Kipling himself. The Popes 
Monoplane is, of course, an aggressively specific ex- 
ample of realism in poetry. But it is a realism 
which, so far from clipping the wings of Pegasus, 
rather spurs him to higher and more strenuous 
flights. We may perhaps conclude our survey of 
this work by an endeavour to render into English 
a characteristic passage from the dialogue between 
the Poet and the Volcano. 

The Volcano 

Ne'er have I slept ; I labour endlessly, 
Enriching space with many a masterpiece 

That lives and dies in a day. 
Over the baking of the chiselled rocks 
Upon the vitrefaction of the many-coloured sands 

I keep my watch 
So well that the clay 'neath my fingers 

Will metamorphose 

To a porcelain of perfect rose, 
Which I shatter with the buffets of my steam. 

My accomplice is the Strait of Messina 

Which dozes in the dawn, couching white and glossy 

As an Angora cat . . . 
My accomplice is the Strait of Messina 
Lolling like a cushion of lazy turquoise silk, 
With soft Arabian words embroidered by the wake 

Of clouds and languorous sails, 

Words woven silently methinks 
With a fair silver thread upon the ocean's robe. 


The perfidious moon is my accomplice, 
The arch-courtesan of the painted stars, 
For nowhere are the moon's cajoleries 
So luring and persuasive. 

And nowhere does the moon cast such assiduous eyes 
To seduce the hard red funnels of the steamers, 

Those surly strollers South 

With a fat cigar in their mouth 
Whose smoke they spit against the azure sky. 

And nowhere does the moon throw such a tender shower 

Of soft and violet ashes, 
As that which lulls to sleep the lava petrified 
On the black houses hanging on my flanks. 
And nowhere has the moon such poignancy 
Of inundations of light and ecstasy, 

As on the gashed paths 

Carved by my surgical fire. 

But woe to those who follow the bleating light of the moon, 

And the plaintive bells of the flocks, 
And the bitter flutes of the shepherds whose world-weary notes 
Are long, long threads that vanish in the blue ! 
Woe to those who refuse to make their galloping blood 
Keep step with the gallop of the blood of my devastation ! 

And woe to those who wish to root their heads, 

To root their feet and houses 

In a craven hope of eternity ! 
A truce to building, for ye must encamp ! 
Nay, am I not shaped even as a tent 
Whose truncated top fanneth my wrath ? 
I only love the acrobatic stars 
Who balance on the rolling balls of smoke 

Wherewith I juggle ! 


I can dance to them, and juggle in mid air, 
And shower my song on the reverberations 

Of thy storms that breed 

In subterranean depths ! . . . 

And I descend 
To hear the diapasons of thy voice. 

So make a pause 


In the electrical discharges of thy tubes 
That tear from thy base the underlying rocks. 
Enjoin to silence all thy babbling grottoes, 
That all a-flutter quiver ceaselessly. 

Gag with thick cinders 
The basaltic echoes whose chorus rings thy praise. 

What good are thy volcanic bombs 

That serve as punctuations for the growlings of thy speech ? 

And what care I for the ruddy jets 

Of thine aggressive foam ? 
Thy deluges of mud have soiled my wings of white, 
But check me not, for proof against thine avalanche 
Of scoria I descend, gilded and aureoled 
By all the powdery shower of thy dumbfounded gold. 

It is also relevant to mention that M. Marinetti has 
been recently formulating new rules and principles 
for his new literary code. Among the more drastic 
phases of this stylistic revolution we would mention 
the employment of mathematical signs and symbols, 
the rebellion from too rigid and pedantic a syntax, 
the minimum use of the adjective and the infinitive, 
the opening up of new fields of images and metaphors, 
and the freer and more increased use of onomatopoeia. 
These ideas are succinctly, though no doubt extrava- 
gantly, set out in the two manifestos entitled Wireless 
Imagination and Words at Liberty and The Futurist Anti- 

Space vetoes more than the enumeration of the 
other Futurist poets Luccini, Palazzescho, Folgore, 
and Altomare though we may perhaps mention the 
recently published Poesie Electrichie of Govoni, and the 
A Claude Debussy of Paolo Buzzi, which won the first 
prize of the first international competition of H Poesia," 
and which transfers into a marvellously fluid Italian 
verse the at once ethereal and faunish emotions of 
the composer's music. 

But if, finally, we may speculate on the Future of 


Futurism, its real prospects and its real significance 
are to be found in the fact that, though extravagant 
and aggressive, it is in essence a concentrated mani- 
festation of the whole vital impetus of the twentieth 
century. Its relationship to Nietzscheanism we have 
already examined. Almost equally close is its affinity 
to the standpoints of such representative spirits of 
the real genius of this particular age as Verhaeren 
and Mr. Wells ; Verhaeren, the gazer on the Multiple 
Splendour of the Tumultuous Forces of the Visages 
of Life, with his motto, " Life is to be mounted and 
not to be descended ; the whole of life is in the 
soaring upwards," who expresses in the strenuous 
majesty of his verse the whole raging complex of 
our psychological and material civilisation ; Mr. 
Wells, too, the glorifier of all the new machinery of 
our scientific fabric ; Mr. Wells, who, with all his 
intoxication for the "gigantic syntheses of life," 
expresses himself most effectually by the maxim, 
" The world exists for and by initiative, and the 
method of initiative is individuality." 

Even if we go to more concrete and more topical 
manifestations, there is not wanting evidence that 
the fiery blast of the Futurists is fanned by the huge 
bellows of our own labouring Zeitgeist. 

If indeed we may meddle with the very latest 
metaphysical terminology, we would suggest that 
it is by a singularly brilliant and apposite stroke of 
intuition on the part of the newly discovered elan de 
vie that, at a time which is moving at an unprece- 
dented rapidity, at a time when the two great brother 
nations of the Teutonic race are preparing their 
rival sacrifices for the God of War with all the 
mocking and drastic fraternity of a Cain and of an 
Abel ; when the air is thick with the wings of a 
new and regenerated France ; when the militant 


maenads of both the West and the East, under the 
inspiration of their dashing and elusive Pythoness, 
are waging with foaming fanaticism a Holy War 
of Sex ; when even one of the most responsible 
of our lawyers is coquetting dangerously with 
both the theory and the practice of the superior 
ethical value of Active Resistance ; when the most 
venerable of our Lord Justices recently interpolated 
a homily on the Law of Change into the middle of 
an otherwise purely legal judgment ; when the two 
young, but patriotic condottieri of either political 
party are fast leaping into a more and more aggres- 
sive prominence ; when the insurgent masses of our 
industrial proletariat have made a vehement and 
not entirely unsuccessful charge against existing 
economic fabric of the country ; when Mr. Thomas 
Hardy has attended, in the pages of even the 
Fortnightly Review, the funeral of the old God of 
pity, and when Bergsonism, judiciously advertised in 
the masquerade of a religious revival, has replaced 
the old Eternal Absolute with the creative activity 
of an endless Movement, the Futurists should now 
exalt the sublime vehemence of war, and the aggres- 
sive fury of youth, while M. Marinetti chants the 
strident hallelujahs of the new God of sweat and 
agony and tension, and Signor Russolo and his con- 
freres exhibit to us in the actual canvases of the 
Sackville Galleries the rampant hordes of rebellion 
and the painting of Movement itself. 


Abel, 237 

Advent, no 

^Eschylus (cf. Corelli), 115 

Alcibiades, 61 

Almansor, 32 

Alroy, 55 

Altomare, 236 

Amour, De l", 13, 14 

Anatol, 161, 176-9 

Anne Veronica, 120 

Anti-Semite, 115, 190 

Anti-Semitism, 115 

Antoine, 98 

Aphrodite, 129 

Arabian Nights, 144 

Ardath, 114, 115 

Aristotle, 74 

Armance, 15-16 

Athanasius, 89 

Attila, 117 

Aubes, Les, 210 

Austria, 215 

Awkward Age, The, 153 

Balfour, Mr., 123 
Balzac, 38, 201 
Banti, Consultation de, 9 
Barker, 162 
Barrie, J. M., 132 
Baths of Lucca, 35 
Baudelaire, 121, 144, 154 
Beaconsfield. See Disraeli 
Beardsley, 144 
Belgium, 197 
Bergson, 208 
Bergsonism, 238 
Berlioz, 38, 44 

Beyle. See Stendhal 

Beyond the Rocks, 128 

Bible, 89, 120 

Bigillon, 5 

Birrell, 64 

Bjornsen, 98 

Black Flags, 95, 100, 111-13 

Blake, 219 

Blatchford, Robert, 132 

BUs Mouvants, Les, 210 

Bohair, 38 

Bond, The, 104 

Book of Songs, 30, 31, 35, 36, 49 

Borgia, 86 

Borne, 38, 39 

Bottomley, Horatio, 119 

Bourget, 24 

B ovary, Madame, 16 

Boy, 115 

Brandes, 71 

Brieux, 188 

Browning, 63 

Brummel, 61 

Bryce, 60 

Biichse von Pandora, 138, 145, 149, 

150. 155 
Buddhism, 72 
Burne-Jones, 219 
Buzzi, 236 
Byron, 30, 52, 93 

Cain, 81, 237 
Call of Life, 175-6 
Campagnes Hallucinis, 2024 
Carlyle, 44, 66 
Carpani, n 
Casanova, 64 




Catholicism, 39, 1 10 

Cervantes, 30 

Chant, Mrs. Ormiston, 133 

Chartreuse de Parme, 20, 21 

Chateaubriand, 6 

Chauvinism, 215 

Chesterton, G. K., 1 19, 198 

Christ, 71, no, 118, 208 

Childe Harold, 52 

Christianity, 71, 72, 73, 76, 78, 79, 

80, 88, 93 ; Electric Principle of, 

Comidie Humaine, 16 
Confession of a Fool, 95, 97, 105-8 
Congreve, 187 
Conquite des Jztoiles, 223-5 
Conrad, 52 
Conservatism, 67 
Contarini Fleming, 55, 62 
Corelli, Miss Marie, 1 14-33 
Countess Mizzi, 161, 184 
Court Theatre, 139 
Craigie, Mrs., 69 
Creditor, The, 103 
Crispi, 230 

Crowley, Aleister, 1 14 
Crown Bride, in 

Damascus, To, no 
Ddmmerseelen, 191 
D'Annunzio, 210, 214, 231 
Daru, 3, 4, 9, 12, 18 
Darwin, 84, 136 
Death Dance, 97, no-n 
DibtLcles, Les, 199 
Debussy, 219 
Dembowska, Countess, 12 
Democracy, 67 
Demon de la Vitesse, 212, 226 
De Profundis, 140 
Destruction, 223, 225 
Deutschland, 40 
Disraeli, 50-69 
Disraeli, Mrs., 62, 63, 68 
Don Juan, 19, 50, 97, 215 
Dorian Gray, 132 

D'Orsay, 61 
Dowie, Dr., 117 
Dream Pictures, 30, 32 
Drury Lane, 122 
Dugazon, 7 
Dumas, 38 

Easter, no 

Ehre, Die, 136 

Einsame Weg, Der, 171, 172 

Eldon, 67 

Elizabeth: 's Visits to America, 128 

Embarrassments, 177 

Endymion, 52 

Erdgeist, 134, 135, 145-9 

Essen, Siri von, 95 

Esther Waters, 129 

Eugenics, 154 

Faguet, 24 

Fakredeen, 52 

Father, The, 101, 102 

Faust, 158 

Ferri, 230 

Feuerwerk, 154 

Fichte, 74 

Flamands, Les, 198, 199 

Flambeaux Noirs, 199-202 

Fleurs du Mai, 121 

Foote, G. W., 119 

Forces Tumullueuses, 196 

Foundations of Belief, 123 

France, 214, 237 

Franziska, 155, 157-9 

Frau Margit, 95 

Free Love, 139, 154 

Free Opinions, 119 

Free Verse, 223 

Freiwild, 1 73-5 

Froude, 51 

Fruhlingserwachen, 135, 145, 150-3, 

Futurism, 212-38 

Galsworthy, 157, 159, 162, 163 
Gambetta, 67 



Garvice, Charles, 116 

Gautier, 38 

Geheimniss der Gilde, 95 

Genealogy of Morals, 70-90 

Genesis, 119 

Germany, 72, 135-9 

Gladstone, 53, 54, 61, 65, 66, 

Gluckspeter, 95 
Glyn, Elinor, 126-30 
Gods Good Man, 122 
Goethe, 74, 144 
Gog, 208 
Govoni, 236 

Green Cockatoo, 161, 182-3 
Guilbert, Melanie, 7 
Gull, Ranger, 115 

Halevy, Jehudah, 43 

Hallucinated Country-sides, 202-4 

Hannele, 137 

Hardy, 238 

Hart, Julius, 137 

Harzreise, 34 

Hauptmann, 137, 210 

Haydn and Mozart, Lives of, 11 

Heimkehr, 34 

Heine, 26-49, 6. 77. 89 

Heine, Amalie, 31, 32 

Heine, Samson, 29 

Heine, Solomon, 30 

Hilbte de Sparte, 210 

Heliogabalus, 121 

Hermant, Abel, 122 

Hidalla, 154 

Higher Criticism (Corelli), 119 

His Hour, 128 

History of Painting in Italy, 12 

Hitchman, 50 

Hobbes, 83 

Hofmann, 28 

Hogarth, 150 

Holy Alliance, 27 

Holy Orders, 121 

Hugo, 38, 224 

Humboldt, 38 

Ibsen, 153 

Idealists, 87 

Ihering, 85 

In Allen Satteln Gerecht, 1 56 

In Allen Wassern Gewaschen, 156 

Inferno, 109 

Ingersoll, 1 19 

Intoxication, HO 

Isaiah, 72, 133 

Israel, 71, 78 

Italian Travels, II 

Jtafyt 35. 213 

Jack the Ripper, 149 

James, Henry, 137, 153, 177, 187 

Jeremiah, 72 

Jesuits, 118 

Jesus, 71, 72 

Jew-Millionaires, 121 

Jews, 118 

Jezebels, Upper-Ten, 121, 127 

Job, in 

fohannes, 137 

Josepha, 30 

Journal, Le, 24 

Judaea, 78 

Julien, 17-20 

Junge Leiden, 35 

Juvenal, 133 

Kably, Mdlle., 3 
Kahn, Gustave, 223 
Kammersanger, Der, 140-142 
Kant, 40, 87 
Karl Moor, 19 
Key, Ellen, 88, 96 
Kipling, no, 234 
Klinger, 219 

Lafayette, 38 

Lamiel, 22-23 

Lebendige Stunden, 1 77, 1 80- 1 82 

Legends, 109 

Les Dieux s'en vont D' Annunsio 

reste, 230 
Lesbos, 131 




Liebclci, 164-166, 169 

Liebestrank, Der, 153 

Life Force, 145 

"Little Mary," 132 

Longfellow, 153 

Louason, 7, 8 

Louis XVI, 2 

Louis Philippe, 21 

Louys, 115, 129 

Loyola, 117 

Luccini, 236 

Lucien Leuwen, 21-22 

Lyrisches Intermezzo, 32, 35, 36 

Madonna, 96, 97 

Maeterlinck, 197, 230 

Mafarka le Futuriste, 129, 231, 232 

Maine, 81, 84 

Marchen, Das, 167, 168 

Marinetti, 129, 212-238 

Marionetten, 177, 179 

Marius the Epicurean, 124 

Marquis von Keith, 153 

Marriage, 98-100 

Masken und YVunder, 191 

Mate, The, 183 

Maupassant, 98, 191 

Maupin, Mademoiselle de, 157 

Meade, L. T., 1 16 

Medardus, Derjunge, 184-186 

Meissner, 38 

Meister Olof, 94 

Meister, Wilhelm, 55 

Melville, Walter, 115 

Mighty Atom, The, 115 

Milan, 4, 12, 13, 213 

Milton, 210 

Minnehaha, 153 

Mirabeau, Octave, 122 

Mirat, Matilde, 41 

Miss Julie, 102, 103 

Mil AlUn Hiinden Gehetst, 156 

Moines, Les, 199 

Moliere, 3, 121 

Alonna Vanna, 140 

Moore, George, 106 

Motherly Love, 104 

Mouche, La, 48 

Multiple Splendeur, Le, 208-209 

Murder of Delicia, 115 

Mutt, 155, 156, 157 

Napoleon, 29, 30, 69 
Nerval, Gerard de, 38 
New England, 67, 153 
New Machiavelli, 105, 120 
New Woman Movement, 96 
Nietzsche, 24, 70-90, 136, 144, 208, 

Nirvana, 73 
Nonconformity, 119 
Nordsee Cyklus, 33, 34 
Northcliffe, 86 
Nouvelle Heloise, 3 

Oaha, 154 
O'Connell, 57 
O'Connor, T. P., 50 
Open Sea, The, 100, 108 
Opportunism, 67 
Orestes, 81 
Ovid, 144 

Palazzescho, 236 

Papacy, 213 

Peel, 64 

Peladan, 131 

Pietragrua, Countess, 4, 10, 12 

Pinero, 145 

Plain Dealer, The, 141 

Playing with Fire, 97, 104-105 

Poe, 154 

Poesia, 221, 236 

Poetische Nachlese, 35, 491 

Pope's Monoplane, The, 233-236 

Professor Bernhardt, 188-190 

Przybeszewski, 109 

Puppet -player, 179-180 

Queux, Le, 116 

Racine and Shakespeare, 14, 15 
Ratcliff, 32 



Raymond, Jack, 119 

Realism, 138 

Red Room, 95 

Reigen, 179 

Reisebilder, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 49 

Rene, 19 

Restoration, French, 17 

Revolution, French, 27, 28, 53 

Revolutionary Epicke, 67 

Rhythmes Souveraines, Les, 210 

Richter, 38 

Risorgimento Italiano, 213 

Road to the Open, The, 192-194 

Robespierre, 40 

Rockefeller, 86 

Rodenbach, 197 

Rodin, 211 

Romance of Two Worlds, 114 

Romantic School, The, 40 

Romanticism, 14, 27, 28, 138 

Romanzero, 35, 47, 48 

Rome, 79, 213 

Rome, Naples, and Florence, 1 1 

Roosevelt, President, 116 

Rossetti, 219 

Rossini, Life of, 15 

Rouge et le Noir, Le, 9, 16, 17-20, 

56, 185 
Rousseau, 46, 83 
Rubens, 197 
Russolo, 220, 238 

Salome, 140 

Sand, 38 

Sappho, 131 

Satan, 208 

Satan, Sorrows of, 1 14 

Schiller, 144 

Schlegel, 38 

Schloss von Wetterstein, 155, 156 

Schnitzler, 161 -195 

Schopenhauer, 72, 73, 74, 144 

Secessionists, 140 

Secessionsbiihne, 137 

Sefchen, 30 

Selden, Camille, 48 

Self-and-Sex Series, 1 30 

Semites, 125 

Serialise, Manual of, 133 

Severini, 220 

Shaw, G. B., 126, 135, 155, 159. 

162, 163 
Sichel, 51 
Sidonia, 52 
Smiles, Samuel, 115 
Smith, Adam, 7 
Socialists, 88 
Sorel, Julien, 16-20 
Souvenirs cFEgotisme, 24 
Spencer, 77 
Spring's Awakening, 115. See 

St. Amand, 197 
St. Barbe, 197 
St. Beuve, 24 
Stael, Mme. de, 40 
Stage Society, 139, 161, 162 
Stendhal, 1-25, 74, 185 
Sterne, 30 

Stratford-on-Avon, 131 
Strauss, 219 
Strife, 163 
Strindberg, 91-113 
Stuck, 219 
Sudermann, 88, 137 
Suffragette, 96 
Superman, 75, 80 85, 87, 136, 

Sutro, 162 
Swan, Annie, 1 16 
Swan, White, 1 1 1 
Sweden, 96 

Swedenborgianism, no 
Swedish Destinies, 98 
Swedish Miniatures, 1 1 1 
Swift, 30, 44 
Swiss Tales, 100 
Switzerland, 215 
Symbolists, 224 

Taine, 20, 24, 136 
Tamerlane, 86 



Tancred, 55, 60, 65 
Tanner, John, 97 
Tartuffe, 121 
Technique, 163 
Temporal Power, 120, 124 
Tenatri, 230 

Tentacular Towns, 202-205 
Terminations, 177 
Thelma, 119, 124 
Thome, Guy, 115 
Three Weeks, 127, 130 
Thucydides, 132 
Tolstoi, 76, 126 
Tories, 65, 66, 67 
Torquemada, 117 
Totentanz, 126, 135, 142-4 
Tracy, 7 
Turn of the Screw, 137 

Uhl, Frida, 109 
Ultramontanes, 21 
Ultramontanism, 115 

Van Lenburgh, 197 

Veil of Beatrice, 169-171 

Vendetta, 115 

Venetia, 56 

Verhaeren, 196-211,237 

Verlaine, 154, 200 

Vermdchtniss, Die, 169 

Versunkene Glocke, Die, 137 

F^ <& Henri Brillard, La, 24 

Vier fahrzeiten, Die, 154 

FiYfe Charnelle La, 223, 228-230 

Villes Tentaculaires, Les, 202 

Visages de la Vie, Les, 208 
Fi'OT'aw 6Vv?y, 19, 52, 55, 56, 59 
Voltaire, 42, 46, jy, 89 
Voynich, Mrs. ,119 

Wagner, 73 

Ward, Mrs., 126 

Waste, 163 

Weber, Die, 136, 210 

Wedekind, 98, 126, 134-160 

Weg in's Freie, Der, 192-194 

Weites Land, Das, 184, 186-188 

Wells, 237 

Werther, 19 

Westermarck, 84 

Whigs, 65,66, 67 

Whitman, Walt, 223 

Wilde, 89, 139, 140 

Will to Live, 73 

Williams, Mrs. Brydges, 63 

Woman with the Dagger, 180-182 

Women atheists, 118 

Wormwood, 115 

Wycherley, 14 1 

Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion, 2 1 5 

Zarathustra, 70, 80-3, 88 
Zensur, 155, 156 
Zwischenspiel, 172, 173 
Zola, 118, 136, 145 

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